The Strenuous Life

Time Magazine profiled Teddy Roosevelt in its “The Making of America” series. One of the articles, entitled “The Self-Made Man” described Teddy’s devotion to physical exercise and adventure, his early fascination with the natural sciences, and the way that Roosevelt’s advocacy of the environment reflected these personal passions.

Roosevelt is an extreme example. However, the tendency to work hard mentally, then work hard physically (as opposed, perhaps, to working hard and playing hard) is a familiar pattern. Pavlov launched a “physicians’ athletic league” and claimed that he preferred physical toil to mental toil, and most enjoyed the two in combination. Darwin rode the backs of giant turtles. One-hundred-year old Albert Hofmann still swims, walks, and rides his bike daily — and is still working — more than fifty years after his discovery of LSD, which he ingested on a day counterculture trivia buffs call Bicycle Day.

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