The phrase, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, was paraphrased by G. Gordon Liddy in the early 1970s. The original line by Friedrich Nietzsche was “From life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger”.
It was included in the book titled “Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer”, which was written in German and published in 1889. I don’t personally believe in this philosophy. Some people actually do and I think they’ve got a screw or two loose.
By the way, the Kelly Clarkson 2012 song titled either “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” (single) or “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” (album) has absolutely nothing to do with life and death.
I’ve had my fair share of mishaps and illnesses in my nearly 60 years of life. When I was a teenager, I once rolled down a hill (in Hawaii) while in a fist-fight and screwed up my right shoulder. It came back to haunt me in 2006, but I got over it the second time as well as the first.
I was hit by a truck while riding a bicycle before joining the military when I was a teenager, suffering a cracked pelvis, and got over it well enough to serve 20 years of active military service.
In 2000, I suffered from a locked left shoulder (called “adhesive capsulitis” by the doctor who diagnosed it) which caused me to be unemployed for several months, but I got over it.
I was sick at least once a year while I was in the military, no doubt due to the yearly influenza inoculations. Those particular vaccinations were worthless, in my opinion, because the flu virus mutates constantly. I didn’t have a choice in the matter because the military powers that be made it mandatory for all military service people.
Since retiring in 1998, I’ve only been ill maybe five or six times and only on one occasion it was the flu. Three of my illnesses occurred after moving to the Philippines. I’m positive it only happened in the Philippines because I didn’t have enough natural antibodies built up against the local virus strains.
I don’t know how long it will be before the local viruses no longer affect me, but someday I won’t have to worry about it. Choose the meaning you get from that sentence for yourself.
If you think of it the right way, we are all in the process of dying the moment we’re born. How long we live our lives depends on how healthy we stay and how well we avoid mishaps. It is my sincere belief that wars, famine, pestilence and everything else that can kill people exist for the sole purpose of weeding out the weak.
Like everyone else, I want to be healthy and live as long as possible. It’s the human survival instinct. If a disease or anything else kills me, however, I want it to be attributed to the natural order of things - the process of life itself.
I don’t consider things that some people call unnecessary risks as such. Even so, I don’t do stupid things, like jump out of a perfectly good airplane for the cheap thrill it provides. Thrill seekers have something mentally wrong with them that compels them to challenge death and I’m glad I’m not one of them.
I think people should spend a lot less time worrying about what may happen to them, that could cause them serious injury or death, and spend a lot more time making their lives more enjoyable. When you change your focus from death to life, your whole outlook on life changes.
When you realize that you can’t and won’t live forever, you’ll spend your life doing things which have meaning instead of wasting it away while trying to futilely protect your future.
Photo Attribution: Friedrich Hartmann / Public domain
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in November 2013.