Monday, January 31, 2005


So often these days I hear, even from men a decade or more younger than myself, who are looking forward to retirement, "Oh no, I don't want to have (for example) a woodburning stove; I'll be getting old and it will be too much for me."

What an conditioned attitude, to give up on the strength of a half-thought, to avoid what may be too much for old age decades before they even reach old age-- they destine themselves never to learn that such things as woodstoves, and the necessary related activities, interest and physical exercise they require, will strengthen their bones, keep them young and strong beyond their years!

Whatever happened to that inborn attitude that says "I'll just go ahead and find out how and what, and alter my path as necessary!" The very attitude by which we learn to walk, play a piano, dance, sing, string out formulas, make cabinets, whatever we take pride in. And here that spirit is dying by the day, right before the eyes it was meant to nourish!!

No discoverer ever had such an attitude. No one who ever advanced on behalf of humanity ever had such a negative conviction. Pioneering is inborn in us all, then carefully taught away...

The genuine reward of practical physical labor such people seek to avoid in their old age (thereby ensuring the old age they anticipate), such as extensive gardening, firewooding or general maintenance, comprises not just the harvest or the firewood or the improved living conditions, so much as the genuine sense of fully and worthily occupying your time, as compared to, say, treading a treadmill in a city gym for an hour or two three times a week.

The former exercise is free, it is done outdoors, it is natural (as opposed to artificial 'scheduled' exercise), it is balanced and universal (all muscles in the body, not just pecs or delts or abs, all fastwork fastterms), it is dictated by the requirements of the world out there, with which one must therefore synchronize, and it is utilitarian.

Collectively, these qualities combine to lift the spirit to its natural elevation and broad perspective, where problems take on their true tiny proportions in the big picture. Not synthetic uplift, as from a drug, some habitual pleasure or one more checkmark on the workout schedule, but the natural stimulus of your heart pumping your blood through your body as you perform your own tasks, whose progress is a measure of your own achievement, your own involvement with the genuine details of your life and therefore of life itself.

Nothing will lift your spirits from artificial doldrums like a long walk through forest along a mountainside, followed by a couple hours of chopping firewood and tilling the garden, fostering appetites that yearn to be.

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