January. A dry month for many. An annual uphill slog, following the pagan orgy that is the winter solstice, recently repackaged as Christmas for the modern homo-sapien who does understand that spring will come again, especially now that it never goes away, but would like a good gorge anyway. And here we are in the aftermath; fat and useless and bloated on food and drink and meaningless electronic devices. And most likely skint too. The cold hard truth of the mirror confirms how far we have drifted from the physical ideals presented to us by the soft porn clips that pass for perfume adverts. The very same marketeers who urged us on to excess and indulgence now howl at us to take a good look at our tumescent bodies, to examine our feeble minds, and to search our turgid souls and do something about it. Or sink forever into the swollen ranks of the ugly and the unwell.
For we live in a world where our innermost insecurities are little more than niche marketing opportunities. And, of course, there is a whole industry of Wellness waiting to elevate us. There are even Wellness coaches, smug bastards perhaps, but they look undeniably well. And although “Wellness” is a clumsy trite little noun, we who have feasted on sugar and protein, and alcohol, nevertheless embrace it, desperate to look, and perhaps even one day to feel, well again.
Contemporary life has gifted us a dazzling range of Wellness options. Some of them promise us voyages of self-discovery, a tantalising prospect for the alternatively inclined, more than ever now that rampant individualism has infected arty left-wing culture as much as it has the world’s major financial hubs. Spinning, pilates, assorted martial arts, and exotic dancing styles are all valid options unless you ascribe to ludicrous notions of cultural appropriation, or worry that you might accidentally be worshipping Satan. And then there are the miracle foods, pulses, berries and grains, all especially tempting now that they have discovered that vitamins, like everything else, can give you cancer. None of them taste very nice but that’s not the point, and there’s always Christmas to look forward to.
Essentially, the Wellness industry offers us simple variants on the age-old wisdom of eating less, doing more exercise, and not worrying too much. Statistically, however, we should probably all be worrying more. Figures show that we are all going to die, and so is everything on the planet, and then so is the planet itself. The prognosis is not good. And the new ethos of personal responsibility dictates that in the not too distant future we may not even get health care, unless we can prove that we have treated our bodies as temples, or at least as potential high yield commodities that might have to be cashed in if they become unproductive.
Ultimately, it all comes down to quality of life as we goose-step our way, lean and tanned, into a bright new future where everyone looks and smells great. Some people spend most of their lives looking after themselves anyway, so January is pretty much like any other month, which is a horrifying thought. And for those of us who are too weak, or too decadent, to spend our fragile and fleeting existence looking and feeling great, then at least we can draw comfort in the fact that time flies, especially as you grow old, and that January will soon be over, and we can all go out and get pissed again. Not me though. I’m giving up the booze. And not for the first time.