4th Floor Walkup

Yesterday, an entrepreneur told me of his father, who died at 81. The father lived in a 4th floor walkup until he was 79, when a fire in the building forced a move to a new building. The new building came with a wonderful view of the East River and an elevator. The view was nice, but the elevator eliminated those eight flights of stairs up to the 4th floor. To this day, the entrepreneur is convinced losing that daily climb up the staircase was the death knell for his father.

It’s often quoted folk-wisdom that climbing stairs adds years to your life. That’s interesting, since the goal of human civilization, once past the creation of the civilization itself and aside from war, has largely been the elimination of all possible effort associated with life.

From elevators to Google search, anything that eliminates effort is rewarded; from rotary dial phones to manual crank car windows, anything that adds effort is penalized. Day by day, year by year, more and more effort is removed from life, leaving more and more effortless life, more and more elevator rides through existence.

Is there a price to pay for that?

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