The opposite of variety

​A Standing Baba is a person who has taken a vow never to sit or lie down.

The legs swell uncontrollably. The feet blister and become ulcerated. The pain is incredible.

I first learnt about these people in Shantaram.

Their vow to forever stand reminds me of a book called Move Your DNA by Katy Bowden. Several things I took from it.

First, a quote. She calls the schedules we live by “the bane of human existence.” Savour that thought for a moment.

Second, she talks about how it’s not sitting all day that does the damage. It’s that we spend a large portion of time in one position.

Exposing ourselves to one stimulus for a prolonged period is the real danger.

The world of health and wellness is notorious for it’s penduluming. The reaction to “sitting makes our bodies go bad” is “standing is the opposite of sitting, so we must all stand, all the time.” The Babas show us that isn’t a good idea.

It’s the un-variety of stimuli that is the real issue. It’s something Nassim Talebs talks about in Antifragile.

We are designed to be exposed to many stimuli and in many different strengths. To a certain degree, we need unpredictability and variety. We need the random and the unexpected.

When you look closer, it’s not just a problem for our bodies. It’s a problem in every other aspect of our lives.

Most people have one job. They do one thing to pay the bills. They have one hobby. They eat the same things, day in, day out. They have one group of friends. They live in the same place for years.

Most people, when given a little bit of freedom and choice, banish variety from their lives.

Sitting causes harm, but always standing is not the solution. Having only one professional pursuit makes you vulnerable, but having twenty is not the cure. The cure is to be found in the gentle re-introduction of variety and randomness into your life.

Don’t just sit.

Stand. Walk. Crouch. Crawl. Run. Roll. Climb.

Don’t just work.

Play. Draw. Write. Act. Joke. Experiment. Try. Fail.