“I went to the woods
because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential
facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did
not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I
wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I’ve had a fantasy of
writing a column, from a log cabin (with indoor plumbing) in the
woods, that begins with this quote about living deliberately. Then,
along with my weekly column, I would write a sequel to Walden, share
with you my joy in the simple life, maybe pass along some tips for
those readers still trapped in modern civilization.
“1. A simple diet, mainly
whole grain bread, potatoes, butter, milk, vegetables and fruit. 2.
No alcohol or tobacco. Drink spring water if possible. Coffee made
from cereal — not real coffee. Very weak tea. 3. Retire early and
rise early. Wash the body with cold water upon rising. Exercise —
preferably by working in the garden or by taking a brisk walk. 4.
Wear loose and porous clothing. Expose the body to the sun.”
I’m quoting here from
Gayelord Hauser’s “Be
happier, be healthier,” in which he quotes a Danish
nutritionist, Mikkel Hinhede. I bought it 50 years ago and tried at
intervals to follow it.
Since then, some
nutritionists moved away from butter, but I think butter’s back now;
I also use Olivio. Coffee has gone from and returned to favor, and
tea is good if you like it, which I don’t. Water from the Quabbin is
fine with me, along with caramel or pumpkin lattes.
I’ve added a lot of other
foods to Hinhede’s list. Because of my concern for some corporate
farm methods, I’ve tried to be a vegetarian, but it’s hard: for
holidays I do buy meat that comes from “humanely raised” animals,
and eggs from free-range chickens. Fortunately, Gayelord was OK with
pasta and with rice (brown not white). I know he wouldn’t approve of
donuts, potato chips and my various Easter candies.
To be honest, I don’t
really want to live in the woods; between my yard and Chip’s, we
have spruce and maple trees, one catalpa: close enough. I like some
vista, so I can see my enemies coming. Speaking of which ...
Apparently we are already
entering the new presidential campaign season; usually I enjoy them.
So what is this unfamiliar feeling that has me reaching for yet
another Cadbury Crème egg? Is this what dread feels like?
Does this come with age?
After so many campaigns, do elders say, “not again!” thinking
they’ve seen and heard it all before? Or do some find the new
political arena to be dustier/muddier than usual?
No, it’s not the dirt
floor; it’s the emptiness. Too many citizens aren’t there, aren’t
even watching from the cheap seats. There seems to be no way to
reach enough voters with the truth, with real solutions, with an
honorable candidate, even if one has these. The recent loss of media
objectivity is hugely dangerous to our republic. If you find a good
person to run, his/her enemies will lie, and much of the media will
repeat the lies, whether out of laziness, lack of time for research,
When the first Republican
candidate, Ted Cruz, announced last month, he was pounced on with
partisan glee. Self-described “Democrat and progressive” Boston
Globe columnist Michael A. Cohen wrote that Cruz “hates immigration
Actually, Ted Cruz, far
from hating immigration reform, is a leading proponent of it: reform
being defined as a better legal immigration system to replace the
current illegal immigration. Cohen’s statement is inaccurate; where
are the Globe editors?
I haven’t chosen a
favorite candidate yet and know I’ll feel a need to counter-attack
all inaccurate, unfair attacks on most of them for the next 18
months. Along with “take a brisk walk,” I’ll share with you my plan
to get through the stress of trying to save America.
Last winter when my
chiropractor, Dr. Dennis O’Connor, suggested I use an exercise bike
for my problem knee, I joined the Marblehead Council on Aging and
began to use its facilities at the Community Center for the first
Along with the fitness
room, I discovered various classes aimed, it may be, at seniors like
me who’ve spent the last few decades sitting in front of a computer
or the television.
When I was young, I could
lose myself in hitting a tennis ball, catching a baseball, shooting
a basketball. Now I learn there is a game called pickle ball I might
be able to play, if I improve my co-ordination and balance. So my
first class is tai chi, which leaves no room in my head for anything
but making my hands go up and down as my feet go slowly forward, or
side to side. Once a week, I concentrate on something besides
current events/politics/saving the world.
The class is small; some
of the other seniors have been doing it for two years and others are
new like me. The instructor, Regina Gibbons, MBA, a certified
instructor of the Tree of Life Tai Chi program, lets us all work at
our own pace, or even sit for some exercises if necessary.
Like my friend Henry
David, I’m not ready yet to “practice resignation.” Instead, for one
hour a week, my mind is focused on breathing, slow movement,
awareness of the moment. Tai chi, which originated in China as a
martial art, is a mind and body practice, a “moving meditation.” If
you are a Marblehead senior citizen who is also feeling overwhelmed
by something, feel free to join me there, starting next Thursday;
beginners are always welcome. There is a suggested $5 donation per
Barbara Anderson of
Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem