For Your Health: Take a Walk

IMG_3329Double670I find myself, once again, staring out the window by my desk, my eyes falling more often than not on the “New Road” that rises out of the pasture just past the barn.

We (and especially SHE) follow that path countless times in a week (and SHE in a single day) as a form of meditation, release and habit born of the pleasure it gives us to live IN and not just on this land.

And as fate would have it, I came across an essay I recorded in 2011. I don’t remember why I would have made a 5 minute essay, since the limit for NPR radio essays at WVTF was no more than three and a half.

The topic is not a surprise, however. The notion of the relationship between our health and the ways we relate (or fail to relate) to nature is a significant part of what I read and think about. And in this one case at least, speak about.

The image shows my first and second wife, walking more or less together, down the New Road, into mystery.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yet another excellent contribution, Fred. Get it down to that magic 3.5 minutes and submit it to NPR! The photo montage is remarkable, too.

  2. I went through a BookTV phase a couple years ago. One of the authors I recorded was a micro-biologist who gave an hour-long critique of progressives.

    I learned that there are four mainstream ways of thinking and believing. These include the progressives and liberals on the left and the conservatives and libertarians on the right.

    The progressives are tree huggers from San Francisco. They take an interest in whether you put salt on your french fries, whether or not you use plastic bags or drink a soda. Barack Obama is the most famous progressive. Bill Clinton is the most famous liberal. Liberals favor unionized teachers and police. The mainstream Republican party are the conservatives. The most famous libertarian in Rand Paul.

    The author spoke to myths held by today’s progressives. These myths include:
    – Natural things are good. This is the basis of the organic food movement and the rejection of GMOs.
    – Unnatural things are bad. Fear of chemicals and pesticides.
    – Unchecked science will destroy us. For example, environmentalists oppose nuclear power and hydro power. Initially natural gas was seen as an intermediary step to renewable energy but is now being demonized, along with frac-ing.

    The author’s conclusion is that if progressives don’t want vaccines, don’t want GM foods, animal research, gender based research, energy in general, can they be considered to be pro-science? Progressives’ attitudes toward science, in the author’s opinion, is that they view scientists as being crazy people out to destroy the planet.

    After watching the program I told Barbara that at age 60 I figured out that I am a progressive in the political spectrum. My mother is a staunch Republican and I don’t understand how she can believe the way she does. I think there is no black and white, only gray, give and take and compromise between different ways of seeing the world. People think and believe differently.

  3. I’m sure you’re condensing the characteristics of the categories for the sake of brevity, but it’s likely that any categorization that puts all of politics, religion, ethics, humanities or any other large cultural behavior-value system into cubbyholes paints with too broad a brush. This is useful to stimulate thinking but not to establish national agendas.

    I especially don’t find in my “progressive” experience that science–pure science–is held suspect or is to be rejected out of the box just because there are “evil scientists” out there. For my own position, I hold that there are appropriate technologies we can derive from science that are worth measured use in society if their scale fits human communities (not profit driven only) and if all ethical considerations of use are given due diligence very very early in the potential application of the science/technology to be applied in a just way across the spectrum of human cultures and communities.

    I’m afraid we’re failing considerably on that front in the face of future-changing applications of science on a grand–or terrible–scale just now.

    Superhuman intelligence / AI and synthetic biology and big data are just three of these horsemen that bear watching closely, but the barn doors have been open for some while.