Every time I floss my teeth I think about that study that concluded that plaque buildup can lead to heart disease and stroke. I did not see that coming. As though I need more guilt about only flossing every week. That, in addition to the guilt over not eating all organic food, or refined carbs and occasionally buying bottled water on long car trips when I forget the aluminum one.
Every week there's a new report that reveals a whole new activity we should be avoiding or a supplement we should be taking. We look in shock at our parents, still smoking, who look aghast as their parents have cocktail after cocktail every night. The Romans had their lead pipes, the Chinese had Opium dens. I don't know what my generation's cigarettes will be, but I know that we'll use the same excuse the generations before us used: "we didn't know. We tried our best."
When I was young, I had a kind of mentor in a very wise woman who practically led the Free Love movement of the 60s. Her life was full of accolades and accomplishments on a nation-wide scale. But still, she felt there was still so much to learn and to do. She wanted her headstone to read, "She Meant Well."
This woman was generations ahead of her time: she believed everyone had to right to love and marry anyone, that the best food came out of the ground pure and unfettered and the best way to get it was from small farms run by good people. Whenever I am tempted to pass judgement or make a life decision, I try to think of her, and I think of my grandchildren. Is what I am saying and doing inspired by principles that will stand up to the test of time? But here's the rub: I try to always think this way.
I try to always take my vitamins.
I try to remember my aluminum bottle and reusable coffee mug.
I try to wear sunscreen.
I try to frigging floss.
But at the end of the day I have to tell myself, 'hell, at least it's not opium.'
"She Meant Well"