Tuesday, September 23, 2008


There is a fitness and a health that isn't just physical. Of course we all know that, for all that reminders come in handy. It's just about appearance, though. It's so very important. You know it's true. That's why they sell magnifying mirrors. Yikes.

Nowadays we can banish our baldness with plugs and suck out the fat from our thighs and transplant it into our cheeks and tie off our stomachs and change the shape of our noses and the color of our eyes. Brave new world. What we cannot do is become more fit by taking pills or having operations. These can change us, but not in quite the same way that nature or its maker intended. To achieve the level of fitness, of physical health that makes living in a body a joy and a temptation to arrogance, we have to do, do things differently. That's not the same thing as having someone else do something to us -- inject botox or apply spraytan. Aside from misfortune, the formula is simple: health is earned.

As for that other sort of health, emotional or spiritual, there's that venerable adage: Act as if you have faith, and it will be given to you. We live in bodies for a reason. It shapes the reality that our emotions feel. That's power. Change your behavior and you change your perceptions.

How? Effective exercise patterns, sensible dietary practices, and attention to an overall balanced lifestyle. Yes, we just love to look great naked. How gratifying. But when they bring out the magnifying mirror, none of us gets a pass. What we don't want to be is a magnifying mirror for the people around us. We take people as they come, and maybe try to make a bit of a difference. It's like what Marley said to Scrooge: Humanity is our business.

You can see I've been thinking about it, health, again. What do we have control over, if not our bodies? All those muffins and sodas, somehow finding their way into our hands and thence to our mouths. What insidious force motivates them? It's inexplicable. Surely we ourselves cannot be held accountable. Other than in our mere health, that is. And health hardly matters at all. We will live forever, after all, in eventual paradise or perdition, or be extinguished like smokeless flame. Take your pick, and live accordingly.


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