It’s another Cancer New Moon. “Be nourished” is a favorite slogan of my Cancer rising friend Rebecca, who has introduced me to so many delightfully healthy foods that often in my kitchen I sing impromptu prayers of gratitude. I thought of Rebecca this week when I read Roger Cohen’s excellent NYT Op Ed about a longevity study done with rhesus monkeys. Apparently, the 27-year-old monkey on the left (see photo above) has spent his life on a restricted calorie diet–which means he’ll live longer than the 29-year-old monkey on the right, who’s spent his life feasting on whatever he wants. Peer into the monkey’s faces (“Canto” on the left and “Owen” on the right) and you can’t help but agree with Roger Cohen:
Canto looks drawn, weary, ashen and miserable in his thinness, mouth slightly agape, features pinched, eyes blank, his expression screaming, “Please, no, not another plateful of seeds!” Well-fed Owen, by contrast, is a happy camper with a wry smile, every inch the laid-back simian, plump, eyes twinkling, full mouth relaxed, skin glowing, exuding wisdom as if he’s just read Kierkegaard and concluded that “Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward.”
Is a life without chocolate or prime rib worth living? What price are you willing to pay for more years? Another NYT article posed the same question in a different context: What if you’re unlucky enough to have advanced kidney cancer? The drug Sutent might add six months to your one or two remaining years, but it would cost you $54,000. If you had the money, you would probably pay it. But if it bankrupted your family, would you still do it? Or if a hundred strangers in your health insurance pool took Sutent and their extra six months meant your premiums would keep rising, would you consider this money well spent? These are difficult questions–how much is life worth? I don’t have an easy answer. But I am bothered by what seems like the unquestioned assumption of our heroes in lab coats–that having a longer life is the greatest prize.
I think again of my friend Rebecca, with Ascendant, Moon, and Saturn in Cancer. One day I watched her preparing a delicious treat for a dying client. With such care she ensured that each fork-full would be nutritious and tasty. This is Cancer at its best, not just protecting life, but making sure it’s worth living. And so at this 29 degree Cancer New Moon, knowing we are not immortal, let’s commit to living what’s left of our lives well. That means truly nourishing ourselves–the dreamer, the poet, the lover–and of course the monkey–in us all. May you be well.