The recent school year has long been over, but the echoes of learning, striving, and achieving persist. We may, if we choose, apply these remembrances of ourselves when we were in school to the circumstances of our health and well-being. We all want good health for ourselves and the members of our families, but most of us are uncertain as to the actions we need to take to attain this goal. For example, it's easy to get caught up in the notion of "perfect health." Such a misconception may have dire consequences, as the image of being "slim and trim" or being able to sport a set of "washboard abs" may actually prevent us from getting started on developing healthy lifestyles. The impossibility of obtaining an idealized result is discouraging and actually prevents us from taking any action. If we perceive the road to climb as too steep, we may never even begin the journey.



Everyone knows someone who has undergone hip or knee replacement. These surgeries are no longer exclusively performed on older persons and are now not uncommon procedures for many patients with persistent, significant hip or knee pain. Problems that lead people to be willing to undergo joint replacement surgery include ongoing intolerable pain and loss of mobility. Good outcomes are generally associated with these procedures, but it is reasonable that most of us would far prefer to prevent the progression of a degenerative joint disorder and avoid the need for surgery.



In the film classic "The Empire Strikes Back," the iconic Jedi master Yoda inscrutably refers to "the Force" during training sessions with his disciple, Luke Skywalker. Yoda informs Luke that he "must feel the Force around you." Yoda himself is frequently seen assuming what may only be described as intergalactic yoga poses. Elsewhere in the film, Luke offers this Jedi-type benediction to the departing Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca, the Wookiee: "May the Force be with you." The Force, whether we conceive of it as a benevolent intelligence or a life-sustaining and life-affirming energy field, is all pervasive and only to be ignored at our peril.



In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth of Concord, his beloved hometown in Massachusetts, but also walked and hiked far and wide across farms, riverbeds, parklands, and mountains all over Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.



In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. A batter needs to have a good eye, quick hands, speed, and a little bit of luck. If we consider that we're involved in playing the game of life, we could ask ourselves what it might take to "hit for the cycle" in our regular pursuits. We'd want our "cycles" to be things we succeeded in all the time.