Monday, September 28, 2009

Teddy Roosevelt and "The Strenuous Life"

The single reason I'm looking forward to the passing years is... at age 62, an American citizen can get a "Golden Age Passport" for free access to our National Parks, Monuments, etc. I LOVE the great and magnificent outdoor places! (Now if only I'm still healthy enough to be ambulatory... and if gas will stay below $10 per gallon... but I digress.)

And so I've been looking forward to watching Ken Burns' "The National Parks - America's Best Idea" on PBS.

Also, since I was a young kid, I've been a Teddy Roosevelt fan. For various reasons. Criminy! The dude is on Mount Rushmore! Isn't that enough??!? In addition, however, we share the same birthday. (I'm sure that's what first got my attention as a kid.)

Roosevelt was hugely instrumental in the early history of preserving our wild places as national parks and monuments.

He was sickly as a child growing up in the Big City. What originally brought him out west, as documented in "The National Parks," was his quest for "the strenuous life," as he called it. He got off a train in the badlands of North Dakota, hoping that huffing and puffing that clear western air, hunting buffalo and climbing mountains would improve his health. And apparently it did; he seemed to get more robust as he got older.

He once said, "If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world."

Don't we see a tendency in society-at-large to "seek swollen, slothful ease," and to "shrink from the hard contests"?

Most of us are bound by necessity to jobs and such, which prevent us from setting out for a life of exploring and buffalo hunting. Me included. (Although I spend 50 weeks every year, looking forward to those couple weeks when I can live the Teddy Roosevelt Lifestyle. NOT buffalo hunting!) But how grateful I am for bike transportation! For a few glorious moments every single day, no matter what else happens, I can get a reminder that there are finer things in life than ease and relaxation.

1 comment:

Clancy said...

I try to live life to fullest everday. And teach my kids the same.

There is a great article over at the Practical Pedal about give and take on the roadway.