Gateway to a Healthy Start
I reread Frederik Pohl’s Gateway a few days ago, for the second or third time. Okay, for the fourth time, I admit it. In a nutshell, the premise of the book is that anyone who can afford passage to Gateway (a space base built into an asteroid that was abandoned a million years ago by an alien race, the HeeChee) can choose to climb into one of the still operational intersteller vessels made by the HeeChee and go prospecting for alien artifacts. The discovery of artifacts, in turn, makes you rich. The catch is that the ships run on autopilot; no one knows how to operate them. They might fly into a black hole, or the trip might last longer than the food supply, or a ship might dock somewhere without breathable air. It’s a desperate gamble, but one people choose to take because so-called normal life on Earth is desperate. People survive on artificial food synthesized from fossil hydrocarbons. One of the things successful prospectors do if they strike it rich is buy ‘Full Medical,’ ridiculously expensive medical care that can virtually guarantee a long, youthful life. The main character, Robinette Broadhead, strikes it rich on Gateway, but even though he has Full Medical, the emotional cost of his voyage is so terrible it threatens his sanity. Anyway, this article isn’t a review of Gateway or any attempt at describing how much I like the book! I want to comment for a few lines about the importance of exercise and fitness in today’s fast-paced world, since we don’t have ‘Full Medical’ here on our current Earth. During the past 20 or 25 years, I rarely exercised or paid attention much to what kind of food I was eating. As a result, at 47 I found myself uncomfortable, unhealthy and needing to do something about it. I woke up one morning and decided, literally that day, that it was time to start moving. I began an exercise program at D1 Sports Training last January; it’s a boot camp-type exercise program where instructors work with small groups on all aspects of conditioning: cardio, weights, strength, etc. It’s well worth the money I spend every month; I’ve gotten stronger, have more stamina and feel better than I’ve felt in years. In addition, almost daily my family uses the many greenways around Knoxville to bike and walk. There are over 50 miles of paved greenways available in and around the City of Knoxville, with some of our favorite trails found at Ijams Nature Center. Ijams is a 275-acre wildlife sanctuary with 10 miles of natural surface trails plus a stretch of paved greenway. It’s one of Caroline’s and John’s favorite areas for biking. Recently, good friends of ours had twin babies. The babies were born here in Knoxville, one boy and one girl. The boy was diagnosed immediately after birth with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare heart condition that was undetectable in utero. The baby was rushed to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, where he currently remains in the PICU. He’s already had one open heart surgery, 5 days into his short life. We’ve stayed in touch with our friends as they continue to watch over him at Vanderbilt and are confident he’ll have a complete recovery. The reason I mention our friends’ experience here is that we should never take our good health for granted. I’m thankful every day that my daughter is healthy and strong. Her dad and I encourage her to exercise daily. She plays softball for two seasons during the year. Also, and most importantly, we exercise with her. John takes her biking; I take her swimming; we go on lots of hikes. I think it’s pretty darned important to not only encourage exercise and fitness, but to do it with your kids. What better way for children to learn the lesson of good health than to watch their parents become healthier too. So, get out of the house and start moving!