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Robbins: Uniform habit leads to a longer life

POSTED: May 5, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Before her breakthrough, star-making performance in 1978’s “Smokey and the Bandit,” Sally Field was featured in a television program in the late 1960s called “The Flying Nun.”

In the show, she played a cute, happy-go-lucky nun who could fly. After reading about a study on the life span of nuns, I can understand why she was happy-go-lucky, but still don’t understand how she was able to fly.

The study, referred to in scientific circles as “The Nun Study” (not very creative; I’d suggest “The Magnificent Nun Study”), found that of 678 nuns studied over half a century, 58 percent exceeded their life expectancy. And of the ones in their 90s or older (around 200 of the 678), very few suffered from Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia.
The study noted that the nuns’ positive attitudes and clean living — they did not smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol -- contributed heavily to their long, active, healthy lives.

Healthy, schmealthy. What science won’t tell you is this: Nuns live longer because they don’t worry about what to wear every day.

Think about it. How much time, effort and energy is spent by the average (non-nun) woman getting dressed every day? And how much of that time is angst-ridden? Worrisome? Fretful? And how many times has “Does this outfit make me look fat?” been uttered since Eve first said it, shortly after morphing from a rib? How many times has a date/husband stood at the bottom of the stairs, tapping his foot, late for an important social gathering, because an average (non-nun) woman bemoaned she can’t find anything to wear?

You know how many times any of those scenarios play out in the life of a nun? None!

Nuns wake up in the morning and have no such life-sucking despair. They just grab a clean habit (that black-and-white get-up) and skip that daily dose of distress. They don’t have to worry about fixing their hair, applying their makeup, or pleasing some man (other than The Man).

No wonder they live longer.

The key ingredient is the nun’s habit. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll call it a uniform. Long ago, the church figured out what movies and television shows about the future have been trying to tell us for years. If you wear a uniform every day and don’t have to endure the panic of “what to wear,” you have a happier, more productive, more fulfilling life. Eventually, we’ll all be wearing uniforms.

Need proof? Watch any movie or television show based in the future. They’re all wearing some type of uniform. In “Star Trek,” the uniform was a lightweight long-sleeve sweater, the color of your sweater indicating your place in the caste system of the future. The boss wore a tan one. Sidekicks to the boss wear blue sweaters. If you’re Scottish, you wear red. If they had to make a vexing choice about what blouse to wear every day, they certainly wouldn’t have been able to save the universe in every episode.

More troubling for the future is the coming a breed of subhumans with animal heads and hairy monkey men able to drive spacecraft and speak gibberish, but that’s not for us to debate. Movies and television have told us it’s coming. We just have to learn to accept it.

Back to my point: If women want to live longer, they need to get started on this uniform thing soon. Conversely, if men want to live longer, women need to get started on this uniform thing soon. Not having to hear “Does this outfit make me look fat?” every other day will increase a man’s life span by at least 10 years, according to none of out of five doctors.

With a uniformed society, women other than Oprah will be able to rule the world. And, according to movies and television, they’ll be able to fly, too.

Len Robbins is editor and publisher of the Clinch County News in Homerville. His column appears weekly.


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