The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Not Quite Dumpster Diving

I saw my hero today for the first time.

At a local supermarket, there is a manager who does a very noble thing. This person goes the extra mile to liberally distribute the “Manager’s Special” orange tags on some choice items as they approach (and sometimes pass . . . shhh!) their expiration dates. As a result, the store is often glistening in little orange labels, like the glitter of new fallen snow, and they call out to me.

It seems like they could just round up these items and throw them out. I consider it an act of service to the poor to take the time to re-tag all this stuff, and it is a task much appreciated. Other store do not have nearly as many tags.

I have been partaking of this catch quite a bit, lately. I try not to touch anything unless it is at least 50% off. Often, the discount is even closer to 80%.

I saw this manager today for the first time. I wanted to go up to him and shake his hand. Instead, I just sort of stalked him as he meandered about the store with his little cart and sale gun.

I’m still one very important step removed from dumpster diving.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Gymnasium as a Capitalist Conspiracy

I got my membership to a local gymnasium yesterday.

It’s time to work off some Christmas turkey (from 2 years ago) and get serious about my health.

I often think about my grandma’s comments about people who workout. For the life of her, she could not understand them. She would get so outraged when bikers and joggers would pass by in front of her house. She’d go out into the street to call them back in—if they have that much energy to waste, she would be glad to put them to work on the farm! There’s work to do! That made perfect sense to her.

I was afraid to tell her I bought a workout bench in high school with my money from mowing her lawn. She didn’t say much, but we knew she didn’t like it.

I have to admit, looking at the gymnasium through those eyes changes things a bit. There are roomfuls of people expending boundless energy . . . on absolutely nothing. They go round and round on their exercycles, sweat themselves silly, as if somehow those activities are even remotely interesting. Nowadays, of course, they plug you into various TV and radio channels to entertain you during your workout. Why can’t they at the very least route their energy into some sort of power generator for the building? I’m sure those cyclists can at least keep the lights on. Maybe that would even be a good incentive for them, too!

Sure, there are health and fitness goals! Many of us do not use our bodies in well-rounded enough ways in our days jobs and we have to fulfill that elsewhere. I get that. But it still baffles me when there are so many good things that need doing in this world—and then to walk into this gigantic room where people are exerting ridiculous amounts of effort just going around in circles like some hamsters in a cage, I have to scratch my head. You see powerful men, lifting thousands of pounds, and they are rendered totally ineffective in society because all this activity and strength is contained in this little gymnasium—it never gets out there where it can be a force for positive movement in our society. All they do is lift the weights . . . and then proceed to put them right back down where they found them.

I’m all for a little bit of sport and recreation, but most of the men in our society have been totally pacified and rendered useless by it.

Our arms are made for lifting. What about lifting babies in an orphanage, lifting food for the poor, or planting flowers to beautify our world? You can get a workout and do something with yourselves, too! I’m not trying to steer people into some sort of obsession with productivity, either. Society has gone through those phases and we have had to re-learn how to have fun. But where is the balance? Our bodies are part and parcel of our vocation in life. They are meant to be used on behalf of our life’s mission. What are we put on this world to do?

You may go to the gym and see family connections, friendships developing, and people focusing on health and well-being. I go and see various science fiction scenarios playing out, not to mention a whole host of political conspiracies: Keep them busy so they don’t get into the business of world affairs.

It is any accident that the gymnasium was a favorite place in Ancient Greece and Rome—our two favorite models of Imperial Overlords? Something to think about while I'm on the exercycle!