The following is Matt Medeiro’s “Cave Man(ifesto).” If this little piece of textual wizardry doesn’t get you in the mood to simplify and get outside, I don’t know what will. Also, be sure to check out Close the Laptop (and change your life).
We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?
We can fly. Our voices can cross continents, connecting every corner of the Earth, and our thoughts can float farther than ever before on each breath of our Internet connections. We can cure the incurable, embrace more information than we ever thought existed, and share our experiences — our memories – with a vividness and speed that was previously impossible.
Funny thing, then, that we feel worse off than ever before. Funny thing, then, that even the most fervent tech-head can’t deny this one simple truth: for every wondrous advancement the modern world has offered, the humans living within it have continued to suffer.
We face a health crisis of unimaginable proportions. We live in a world of staggering complexity, of a thousand different voices shouting as loud as possible in the overcrowded space inside our skulls. We search and search for simplicity and still come up empty-handed, weighed down instead with so many unnecessary wrinkles on what we know should be simple.
THE CAVE MAN(IFESTO)
This manifesto is for people like you. This manifesto is for people like us: every single person who recognizes the wonderful innovations of modern times in the same breath we recognize the enormous appeal of glancing back at a stronger, simpler past.
This manifesto is for everyone who wants balance.
We want a middle ground between the old world and the new one, and we want it for the one part we know we can change: us. Ourselves. This manifesto isn’t a call to change the world. It’s not a call for global upheaval, and nor is it intended to crack any modern social order at the base.
It’s an opportunity, instead, to take control of our greatest asset — ourselves — and change it for the better. It’s a request, for every single one of you, to rethink the way you live, and to realize that a few simple tweaks can bring you right where you want to be: in the middle. Happy and healthy somewhere in the grey, a modern human with all the strength and simplicity of our long-forgotten past.
We want balance. We want to live like modern-day cavepeople — to enjoy the simplicity of our ancestors in a world that’s been near-buried in excess.
This manifesto is a step in that direction.
The Cave Man(ifesto) is both an introduction and a conclusion — a glimpse at the finish line of the work begun in Roots and continued now on Three New Leaves, and a broad picture of the themes we’ll be tackling here in order to reach it.
Ready to get started? Let’s take the first step.
1. Food should not be hard.
Diet books. Diet pills. Get thin quick plans, calorie counting, meal timing and food measuring.
What do all of these things have in common?
They’re bandaids. They’re 100-calorie bandage packs we try and apply to mask a simple truth: the modern world has taken a need as basic as food and twisted it into something more incomprehensible — more stressful — than ever before.
They’re also useless. To the modern dieter that’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true: all of these quick fixes are unnecessary in every way for strong, long-lasting health. Call them a symptom, if you like, of the modern fascination with numbers, or just evidence of our over-reliance on tricks and techniques to try and salvage our health.
We count carbs. We count fat. We count this and that and generally make a grand old mess of things while our health suffers more by the year.
Here’s a different idea.
Food should not be hard. Food should serve the purpose of sustaining us, of keeping us alive, without any needless complexity about calories, weight, or how quickly it’ll go straight to your thighs. Food should be enjoyable, a pleasure to both create and eat, and should not invite the stress or worry we’ve been trained to expect whenever we sit down with our plates.
Food should be simple. And it can be, we’ll discover, when we take a few cues from the past and turn a critical eye to some of the dietary choices we’ve accepted as staples in the modern world.
2. Food should not be fake.
Food should not come from a laboratory. It should not be engineered or designed in any way to maximize flavor and safely sit on a store shelf for years at a time. It’s amazing that our bodies can ingest these foreign substances and still survive, but it’s even more amazing that we’ve embraced processed food so quickly and so readily as a dietary staple.
Consider that processed food as we know it debuted within the last century. Consider too that such ‘food’ comes saddled with all sorts of innumerable chemicals and quirky names we could never naturally encounter in the real world. Is it any wonder, then, that our health continues to suffer with every sip of a soft drink we take?
Food should come from the earth. It should come natural and flavorful, the bounty of a land that has supported us for countless years, and it should not come saddled with an ingredients list that more closely resembles the glossary of a chemistry textbook.
Eat simple. Eat natural. That’s all we need to do.
1. Fitness should be simple.
Reverse pyramid training? Double triangle flapjack squats? Olympic-style training for everyone, whether they want — or need — it?
Let’s be clear: I’m not implying that these programs don’t work. They’re designed with very specific goals — let alone a specific kind of athlete — in mind, and in this sense they can prove tremendously successful for anyone willing to put in enough time at the gym.
For everyone else, though? For the average person like you or me who just wants to look and feel better? They’re unnecessary. They’re overly complex, open the door to every manner of injury, and tend to suggest that proper fitness is restricted to a small, elite group of athletes.
There’s no need for complexity. Proper fitness for the modern caveperson should emphasize a simple, effective routine, one that maintains both fitness and physique in a way both appealing and accessible to every person imaginable.
Real fitness should make you look better naked, in other words, and be simple — and satisfying! — to do.
You don’t need to bench press 300 pounds to be in good shape. You need to focus instead on a series of bodyweight movements that provide natural stimuli for the body, the same style of exercises our ancestors enjoyed without needing any kind of strict regime. Stay consistent, stay happy, and the person staring back in the mirror will soon grow to resemble the one you’ve always wanted to see.
2. Fitness should be lasting.
Your age doesn’t matter.
Twenty, forty, sixty or beyond — your body always benefits from proper exercise, often to a degree that can make a world of difference in how you handle those later years of life. The modern world, however, makes it easier than ever to spend our time standing still: elevators over stairs, couches and chairs at the ready, and gleaming boxes with a thousand different channels all vying for our attention.
You owe it to yourself to keep light on your feet. You owe it to yourself to emulate the style of exercise our ancestors encountered on a daily basis: walking, running, and physical challenges by the dozen, all of which have been so cleanly phased out in modern times.
The benefits of motion are tremendous. And whether your motivation is family, friends, or simply your own enjoyment, a strong, lean body is a gift that cannot be replaced. This is your life. We’re all better off spending it the best way we possibly can: fit and capable, able to enjoy each year as mobile and strong as we’re meant to be.
Fitness is not the domain of the youth. It’s a call, now, to stand up and start moving, a chance for modern cavepeople of every age to dedicate themselves to some form of daily motion for as long as they live.
1. Technology should save time.
The modern caveperson does not shy away from technology. We embrace it, applaud what it makes possible, and recognize every wonderful change it has wrought in the last few decades alone. We recognize technology for what it is, however, and tailor our use accordingly: a tool to be used, admired, and then left alone.
We don’t spend hours with social media, flittering between Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates with the speed of a mouse click. We don’t plop down on the couch and lock eyes on the screen every single evening after work, and nor do we spend every waking moment on the latest and greatest in digital entertainment.
We recognize, instead, that all of those things are a perk to accentuate our modern lives, but should not — and do not – double as a replacement for the real world all around us. We run, we play, and we cherish our lives away from the screens, knowing that modern technology is better left an accessory for an otherwise strong, happy life.
We recognize, now, that technology is a tool to be used mindfully, and not some easy opportunity to waste the time we’ve been given.
We want to live like modern-day cavepeople.
That paints a funny picture, admittedly, of suits and ties sitting by a fire, smart phones in one hand and freshly-roasted insects clutched in the other. The main idea here is a lot more practical: a picture of people — people like you and me — living stronger, simpler, and happier than ever before even as the stresses and complexities of modern life start to stack all around.
Can you guess what we’re doing differently?
We’re finding balance. The Cave Man(ifesto) is the first great step in that direction, and let’s also call it an open invitation to every single one of you to stick around and see just how far we can walk. I’ll be right alongside you, I promise, and excited beyond belief to see how we’ll both emerge on the other side.
We want to live stronger, happier, and healthier in a world that makes each one harder than ever before.
We want to live simpler in a world of needless complexity.
And starting today, we will.