What compels a well-educated and reasonably well-off person, presumably awash in the physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem levels of Maslow’s pyramid, to throw a leg over a bicycle and ride for days in the cruelest heat, cold, and rain? Why do something so clearly unnecessary? Continue reading →
If you’re an avid reader of Vital, you probably know that we like bikes a lot around here. First and foremost, it’s fun to ride a bike. And also, it’s good for your health and the health of the planet. With this in mind, I interviewed Randy LoBasso and Ashley Vogel of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia about what it means to advocate for bikes and their riders. Here’s what I learned. Continue reading →
It’s warm out! And you know what that means—more cyclists! More and more cities have bike rental programs, and cities are increasing the number of bike lanes they provide. It’s great for health and the environment. But drivers need to change their habits to make it safer!
And remember: when we bike, you park more easily. So, start noticing us and think about changing your habits to ensure our safety and yours. The habits of drivers can change how we think of transportation and counter some of the more hateful attitudes against cyclists that have resulted in tragic consequences, as editor Ben Utter discussed last year.
Want to help create a bike-friendly culture? Sure you do.
Here’s how: Continue reading →
My Uncle Brian recently tried to describe someone to my father. “He was a tall slender guy, like Michael.” Michael is me.
“Brian, when was the last time you saw Michael?”
“Maybe a year and a half ago . . . why?”
“Why?! Brian, he’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger! He’s busting out of his shirts!’”
I felt my face turn red when my father related this conversation to me. Part of me was pleased—I work hard at the gym. Another part of me, a part I keep hidden, knew I had so much further to go—and that was why I blushed, not because of the compliment. It’s that second part, the secret part, throbbing constantly under everything else, that I want to talk about. The incessant drumbeat inside me that calls out for more, that animates my endeavors at the gym. It feels like an unseemly thing I’d do best to hide. It is a desire that I have hidden, or downplayed, or dressed up in respectable guises.
Well. Time to come out of the closet.
It is not uncommon for scholars to spend so much of their time focused on books and the ideas held in them that they neglect physical activity, which is just as well, because strengthening the body is still deemed a less rigorous or less sophisticated pursuit within some corners of the professional cultural climate. This old idea still has broader influence. We almost take it for granted that one can’t be both intellectual and athletic. Just think of common stereotypes: the nerdy kid with glasses who doesn’t know how to throw a pass or, conversely, the high school football star who can’t pass his classes.
The pressure to focus so intensely on the intellectual side of life can be particularly intense for humanists, whose research less often concerns the physical body and more often focuses on human creation, its ideas, formation, and influence. In this funny and insightful essay, Ben Utter, a specialist in the literature, culture, and history of the Middle Ages, “confesses” to his hypothetical humanist professor that he has, in fact, abandoned his life of the mind to pursue, at times, a life of the body. This essay highlights the tension present in a professional culture that privileges one over the other and, through an expertly detailed historical analysis of this juxtaposition, invites us to reconsider the concept of dividing mind and body in the first place. Continue reading →
On a brisk February morning in 2014, Dan Nuzzo woke up gasping for air. His heart was racing and he could no longer sleep. That moment, Dan explained, was his “lowest point” since his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis two years before. Indeed, at this time, his symptoms were so severe that he postponed his physical therapy training for a second time. Continue reading →