A fish out of water; a classic car rusting in a garage; a bird in a cage.
Some things in this world just simply aren’t meant to exist in certain environments. Disregarding the qualities that makes them such wonders of life, art and magnificence, it makes our heart ache when we witness such beings go to waste during their precious and powerful moments here in the universe. Contained wonder; contained raw power – a true travesty of existence that leaves most compassionate people with a sense of melancholy when witnessing such unnatural sights as a fish flapping helplessly on sand, or a bird hesitating to spread its wings because of the metal bars three inches in front of its beak. These things do not belong in said environments, we tell ourselves – in is not natural, and it is not just. But in looking at these things and concluding such thoughts, sometimes we need to look in the mirror, look back upon the reflection and ask: what about humans? What about ourselves?
Of all the creatures on planet earth, we are by far the most complex and intellectually powerful. With the tool-set to explore, interact, construct and create, me and you have the dexterity and intelligence to build skyscrapers and climb to the top of mountains; we have the utter depth of language to connect with people from all around the world and go on journeys, start adventures, live dreams, share knowledge and discuss complex ideas. No other being can even get remotely close to the level of communication me and you have right now in the writing, reading and understanding of these words and sentences. In human history our kind has culminated such physical, linguistic and intellectual excellence to sail around the world, write novels, build satellites, fly into space, climb the tallest mountains, run the longest races and break the unbreakable records.
But as majestic and advanced as we are, we are not invincible and – just like the aforementioned creatures – we are also vulnerable and at risk when we are to enter unnatural environments; ironically one which is self-created in the form of a sedentary lifestyle that permeates our daily routine living. Such a way of living comes from an overexposure to technology and a society that places us in one place and often tires us out, leaving many of us not to explore, build, exercise, learn and interact with the world – but to instead live a life of stillness – one where we remain indoors and incessantly consume media as we degenerate our health and complex minds. In doing so we become the salmon out of water, the Chevrolet rusting in the garage, the eagle in the cage. We become the very thing that so often leaves us with a sense of melancholy and sadness – our abilities to explore, build, run and discover contained by a lifestyle choice of closed living.
The effects are deadly. Health campaigners against sedentary living warn that such lifestyles can be linked to as many deaths a year as smoking, with the risk of falling victim to fatal heart diseases rising by 64% when one maintains a sedentary lifestyle. Amongst this, research papers conducted on the public also attribute health problems such as depression, diabetes and even dementia. The problem goes beyond such physical health problems though – it rocks our foundations of mental and spiritual well-being. How can we as people aspire to become learned and knowledgeable about the world when our windows to it become sensationalist tabloid-newspapers and trashy, unimaginative television? How can we learn to talk to people and develop our empathy when we physically interact less and less each day? Whereas a lack of exercise will degenerate our bodies, an over-consumption of media and lack of real world empirical experience will degenerate our minds.
Sure, the technological aspects of the information era present to us many advancements in the world. Computers and their capabilities act as the veins of society; TV news brings us far-off events to the comfort of our homes; our phones make it easier to connect than ever before. But to leave this world completely unregulated, place too much emphasis on it and let this static consumption totally replace our natural environment is unnatural and damaging. In a world where technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we need to seek to experience people, events, and places not through profit-driven media, but through travel, exercise and exploration. We should learn not through word of mouth and gossip, but by empirical experiences and real tangible things. These are the things that help us evolve mentally, physically and spiritually – not a static and still sedentary lifestyle that is counterproductive to the evolutionary process that has made us all such advanced beings in the first place.
You and I were meant for so much more than a still lifestyle. So let’s put the fish back in the water, fire up the rusty old Chevrolet one more time and release the eagle from the cage. Take flight. Walk, run or cycle once a day; integrate travelling movement and learning into lifestyles. On the journey of evolution let our lives count for positive, adventurous and progressive strides, not static and still ones. Because as far as you and I go, we are only here once – so let’s use this time to utilise the tools that make us the most advanced species here on earth. Get up from the chair, open the curtains, open our minds, explore, dream, learn, move and discover.