Fast Focus: 'What can we do to have a more active lifestyle?' Physical and mental activities

March 9, 2014 

The first law of Newton's laws of motion states, " ... an object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force." My neighbor Herman sympathizes with this law, but back to him shortly.

My lifestyle can be described as "active" in the physical sense. In part I owe these core activities of jogging, walking, riding my bicycle and playing handball, to an earlier age when parents, military service and an athletic wife, fostered such habits. Simply, they're carryovers -- each one picked up at a different age and, though lessening in intensity, pursued to the present day. They feel natural.

Herman would feel happy for my sweaty vigor. "Good for you!" he would exclaim but he would also walk away from any lecture on the importance of exercise. He would ask me if I thought I am superior to him because I carry a YMCA card. I would tell him no. He would ask if he should feel any kind of envy to know I jog three miles twice a week. I would tell him nope. He would ask me if I thought he should visit the bicycle aisle of REI and again I would shake my head no. And then he would proudly pronounce, "Exactly!" with his index finger wagging at my smiling face. " 'Active' should not just denote Nautilus equipment and tripping down streets in Nike Airs," he'd warn.

Herman's weight or health aside, he's happy with activity of a different sort. In fact, he loves his easy lifestyle. He says the exuberance I receive from a jog, he finds building a balsa Spad; he lets his fingers go crazy with three friends in the park playing dominoes; he reads Proust, Twain, and Sue Grafton (among others); goes through #2 pencils working sudoku and crosswords; and he writes real letters to his relatives who never write back. But he has never been on, nor ever will, a treadmill.

Herman is simply that happy man being just who Herman is. The old Greeks would have approved.

What can I do to have a better style of life? Keep being who I am, and let Herman be Herman. And think about "activity" in all its manifestations.

-- BINK OWEN, Walla Walla

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