the country as a whole spends countless billions of dollars on health research, healthy-lifestyle advertisements, improvement programs, medicines, and such. this is all good, no doubt. but don't think of any of it as insurance. on pages 2 and 3 of today's daily news i find two bizarre and unexepcted deaths that testify to the fact that when your number is up, it's UP, and it doesn't much matter how healthily or unhealthily you've lived until that time. for example, the young lady killed by a hit-and-run driver in staten island was just 20 years old, and had already triumphed over a bout with hodgkins lymphoma when she was 17. her hopes for the future were bright, and though it's not mentioned in the article, i am certain that stephanie was living as healthily as she could in order to take care of herself after the cancer terror. but none of that helped her when some papers blew out of her hand, she stepped to grab them, fell over the highway divider and got crushed by an SUV. (as of this writing, the driver of said SUV has not yet been found, though the car was abandoned a short distance away.) oh, you say, but people die in car accidents every day, that's part of the statistic. true enough. so how about this one: a guy is sitting in his living room when a car doing 70mph crashes through the wall of his house and several interior walls and kills him dead right on his own couch. drunk driving drug suspect being chased by the police loses control of his vehicle and rams the guy's long island house the same way corey lidle rammed that upper east side apartment building not too long ago. the man's son was in the basement, watching TV, when the car came crashing in. even gamblers won't take odds like this: what if the guy had been watching TV with his son, what if the driver wasn't drunk, what if the cops didn't chase the driver, what if the son instead of the dad was sitting in the living room, what if the house wasn't so close to the highway... you see what i mean? sure, we ban smoking and trans fats and god knows what's next. nothing wrong with any of that except the idea that IT WILL KEEP US SAFE, the idea that YOU WILL NOT DIE if you take certain steps. people, we're all gonna die, and most of us don't know when or where or how. and your bodybuilder neighbor with zero body fat, perfect blood pressure and no cholesterol can have a car ram through her living room just as easily as can your beer-drinking bacon-eating fatass apoplectic best friend. i believe that this somewhat perverted american idea of circumventing death causes more problems than it solves. like helmet requirements on bicycles. who on earth could be hurt by the absence of the helmet other than the rider of the bike? are they going to ram into somebody at 40mph and bash them with their bike-riding skull? if that's the case, a helmet will only only make things worse...the only person who could possibly be hurt by the absence of one is the rider him or herself. and shouldn't that be their choice? i don't know if this is still the custom -- given global warming, they may not even have the option -- but old eskimoes used to get onto an ice floe and simply float away when they felt their time had come, or that they had become a burden to their people. something like that happens here, and we've got kevorkian in jail. why? it's gotta end sooner or later, why not have the option? all of this is part of the right to choose -- we limit ourselves when we use that phrase only in connection with abortion. we have the right to continue our bodies or not, to protect them or not, to artificially extend the life of them or not. these are the most significant and personal choices anyone can make, and everyone has to make them on their own -- and should be allowed to, with no government interference. isn't it enough that paying taxes has "turned us into a nation of bookkeepers" as another (german, i think) writer has noted? a few pages later i find a health report in the paper. new yorkers die less often of stroke than people in most other states. oh, joy and rejoicing. BUT! we die far more often of cardiac failure, something like the 2nd highest rate in the nation. i'm no statistician, but it seems to me that if we're all dropping dead of early heart attacks, maybe we don't have time to catch that stroke. this kind of thinking makes such reports meaningless. the one thing doctors and scientists agree on is that they DO NOT UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY HOW THE BODY WORKS. and i believe we'd all agree that none of us understand completely how the universe works. that being the case, let your spirit -- or your heart, if you will -- guide your choices. not the warnings and the bans and the restrictions. salute!this blog was committed by jackie sheeler