Volume 95, Issue 34

Thursday, November 1, 2001
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Using terrorist tactics to fight terrorism in Afghanistan

1700's man hates treadmills

1700's man hates treadmills

Unabridged Unexpurgated
Marcus Maleus
Opinions Editor

It's noon on a late October day. I'm sitting behind the University Community Centre, drinking a hot chocolate. It's a little chilly, but I'm wearing a couple of layers and the sun is breaking through just enough to keep me warm.

The weather isn't perfect, but it's nowhere close to unbearable. Still, a great day to be outside. At times like this, I think of people cooped up in gyms.

I'd be interested in hearing what someone from the 1700s would say if I sat them down and told them it's now common for people to pay monthly fees to go to a building to run on treadmills or ride stationary bikes.

I'm sure the 18th century man would ask some interesting questions.

For instance, why pay money to run or bike on a machine indoors when you can do it outside for free? A little cold or heat won't kill you, he might say.

It suggests to me society has either fallen in love with the indoors or become 'climate snobs,' refusing to do outdoor activities unless the weather is perfect.

The whole concept of 'convenience' and 'comfort' seems to have taken over the North American way of life. What's inconvenient isn't worth doing; what's uncomfortable is avoided at all costs.

As a result, many people spend all their time inside, never doing anything adventurous, driving everywhere, keeping the fresh air intake to a minimum and merely 'surviving.'

By the same token, it's sad to hear how much time kids spend indoors, watching TV or playing video games.

When I look back at my childhood, I don't remember any exceptional TV episodes or awe-inspiring sessions of Super Mario Brothers. I watched TV and I played video games, but the times that really stick out, have nothing to do with a couch or TV set.

My memorable moments include trying to turn up as much mud as possible on my dirt bike, rolling around in sawdust at my grandfather's woodshop or marveling at the architectural finesse of my cousins' tree fort.

I fear, as an adult, I'll lose sight of the great outdoors and true adventure. I'll spend exorbitant amounts of effort trying to create the ultimate living room, where I can spend hours upon hours being as 'comfortable' as possible, negating the need to go out and do something for real.

I'll have virtual fun playing incredibly advanced video games. If I get bored, I'll turn on the high-definition TV and go on a virtual adventure. If it gets too hot, I'll turn on the air conditioning. If it gets too cold, I'll turn it off.

I'll live this way for years, never going on any adventures, never taking any risks, but merely living 'comfortably' until I hit 78 and pass away.

I know deep down that will never happen. I'm a person who prefers to see what the world has to offer with my own eyes.

I won't lose sight of how fun a day in reality can be – where the picture is sharper than high definition, the acoustics are better than surround sound and the air is fresher than even the cleanest living room.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001