What is it about childhood and adolescence that makes us feel invincible? Nothing could go wrong when we were young. We were adventurers, and everything in our world was immortal. Illnesses were just another excuse for bunking classes, and tragedies happened to other people.
There was a time I believed that brushing teeth twice a day was for weenies; I didn’t have to worry about cavities. When I couldn’t understand why my mother insisted I shouldn’t read lying down on the couch. When I would secretly throw away my green vegetables. And later, in college, when I ate unhealthy, take-out junk food three meals a day.
But a few years, two root canals, a mild case of cervical spondylosis and the development of a moderately active health-and-nutrition consciousness later, I like to think I’m smarter. Mature. Now I’m the one telling others to make healthy lifestyle adjustments; I tell my cousins off for their bad posture, try to wheedle young nephews and nieces into drinking milk, and frown at my father when he puts extra salt on his food.
Do we take care of our bodies because life is a gift? Or is this just the price we pay for being human; for having a destructible body that we wish to protect? That we should live in fear of sickness, of death? Or maybe it’s just an evolutionary thing–we need to be fit in order to survive.
Whatever the reason, I do try to have a salubrious lifestyle. But I still yearn for those days when I could eat a whole bar of chocolate without feeling guilty, and when I didn’t feel compelled to go to the gym every time I had a huge bowl of noodles for dinner. I wish I didn’t have to grow up!