April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Second If

I was talking last night with one of the brothers about an "Intro the the CR List" message that I've been working on. I couldn't locate a minor gramatical error that he had found, and he said, "It's the second if." Apparently, the second if should be "whether." We decided it wasn't worth worrying about, but I pointed out that "The Second If" sounded like a great headline for a blog entry. He couldn't quite figure out how I would work it into the concept of CR, but I pointed out that if I can work a song about Saint Augustine into CR, I can do anything.

I was sitting in the parking lot at the vet's, having found out that my cat has to stay another night in the hospital. By the time I got to the traffic light at the corner of Ridge Pike and Butler Pike (about two blocks away) I had the premise of the entry in my head.

I got home, made dinner (ate only half the broccoli/cauliflower, so take 75 cals off yesterday's total.) Poured glass of wine, got in bed with stack of de Grey articles.

[If anyone has been following so closely that they would have noticed this: Earlier in the week I had talked about having dinner plans with some non-CR folk, and about the fear that I would not be able to keep my consistent calories theme going when we went out to a place I'd never been before... social struggle, etc. I ended up cancelling the plans, not because of that, nor so I could sit at home and read de Grey (a level of geekiness of which I am certainly more than capable but in this case did not happen to be expressing) but because I thought I was going to be taking care of a sick cat. I didn't find out till very late in the day that the cat had to stay at the hospital another night, and by that time it was too late.]

Began to wonder if I will start quoting de Grey in casual conversation too. He has quite a few catchy lines.

Got a call from a friend, chatted for awhile, read more, got tired, turned off light, went to sleep.

Went to sleep remembering one of Brian's old posts in the archives that seemed to address a conflict that must have been going on in the CR community at the time. It went something like this: "Life extensionists, meet want to be healthier people. Want to be healthier people, meet life extensionists."

Now I'd like to point out for the five thousandth time, if I had just wanted to be healthy, I would have stayed a lowfat vegan. I wanted to squeeze enough years out of my life to participate meaningfully in a pretty big change in the political economy of the US... that'll take awhile, don't you think? But I certainly did not have a "cure for aging" in mind on March 26, 2004, at 5:10 pm.

I fall asleep rather quickly... my insomnia is not a problem of not being able to get to sleep, it's not being able to stay asleep.

Had horrible blog stress dream, in which Mary says that she isn't going to talk to me anymore and is taking down the link from her blog to mine because I'm talking so much about non-food stuff in my blog.

Just reminding everyone... it was only a dream! But it provided me with a great framework for the concept of "The Second If."

It goes something like this:

The first if, for CR practitioners, is the "If CR works at all." Does CR slow down, (though not stop) aging? If we didn't believe that the answer to The First If was yes, we would be silly to eat less than our friends. Will CR keep us healthy and alive, longer than eating a "healthy" diet that is not restricted in calories?

For now, CR is all we have, so we may as well go with If Number One, eat as few calories we can, and enjoy the short term benefits of better health while we're hoping the long term benefits come through.

The Second If is: will there ever (or at least in our somewhat longer lifetime) be anything better?

I would venture a guess that many people in the CR Society would answer "No" to The Second If.

I wonder if this is out of a well-researched belief, or simply out of not knowing that there are people out there making progress on this stuff? In my case, I had no idea.

There's plenty of good reason to do CR even if you'll only go as far as The First If. To my mind, *any* lengthening of health and life is worth quite a bit of effort... I mean, what else are you going to do?

I have heard of, though never met in person, people who say yes to The Second If but no to The First If: they're waiting for the pill.

The debates about the Ifs remind me somewhat of discussions I used to have when I was a labor organizer (which as you know I still am) but I spent most of my social time with anarchists, especially the green variety of anarchists. "Are you an anarchist?" "Are you a communist?" "Are you a democratic socialist?"

My answer to these questions was always the same, "I'm an organizer."

It didn't matter to me so much what the final vision of the future was because I was determined to do whatever I could, right here and now, to make things better. If that meant the slow and agonizing process of helping workers fight tooth and nail for evey the smallest improvements in their workplaces, then so be it. I used to get quite frustrated with my anarchist buddies (who are by no means representative of all anarchists, in case there are any offended anarchists out there) not only because they would spend a lot of time sitting on my couch and drinking all my beer, but because they refused to do things in the short term that might cause incremental improvements. Some of them even argued that organizing unions was bad, since any improvement in workers' lives would only slow the coming of the eventual revolution.

"Big Labor is not revolutionary," one of them said.

"Get off my couch and out of my house," I said.

It was a rather dramatic moment.

That series of struggles cemented my belief that one, or at least I, must do what I can NOW, every day, even if the victories are far between. It's that belief that keeps me organizing workers in a time of fairly extreme darkness for the American labor movement.

And of course, that belief leads to doing CR at the most intense level I can work out in my life.

However, it doesn't preclude belief that the answer the The Second If might be yes. We certainly can't know that it won't. (Like the Black Moth, I enjoy sentences with double negatives.)

It seems to me that those of us who are willing to act based on assent to either, or any, of the Ifs, had better stick together. Buying into either of them makes us unusual, and being willing to act at any level on anything we believe makes us even more unusual.

Besides, who else is going to understand our bizarre eating habits?

The CR Society is a great example of a community in which people with very diverse beliefs, habits, visions of the future, and politics co-exist very happily, learning from each other even when they disagree.

Still, I'll be really happy when Mary writes to tell me that it was just a dream!


  • At 7:23 AM, Blogger Mary Robinson said…

    What a silly dream! If I was better at analyzing dreams, maybe I could tell you what it means. Maybe I should blog off topic more and you would feel better. Despite the fact that I am pretty nonconformist, I do tend to follow my own rules. So my blog is pretty much on topic all the time. Your blog has the opposite effect on me than your dream. It makes me think maybe I should blog more about other things. I especially like your thoughts about CRON philosophy.

    Your anarchist stories remind me of the last "event" I went to on the mall in DC right before the election. It was a political rally organized by labor and ANSWER. I wore a Kerry button and people kept harrassing me. So, I took it off. But it reminded me of how impractical and unproductive people can be.


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