Inactivity + Idleness = Lethal Laziness
“Secretly, he plotted a post-election hunting trip to Mississippi…. It was not blood he craved, so much as exercise. His left leg had now healed, but he was lame from the wheelchair, and his girth was increasing. He felt he might turn fat to muscle with a few days violent activity. The alternative method of losing weight did not seem to occur to him: he continued to eat hardily three times a day. A guest at lunch noticed that waiters were all always moving towards the President.” So writes Edmund Morris, author of Theodore Rex, of Theodore Roosevelt in 1902.
Theodore Roosevelt was the most active president we ever had, however, when forced into inactivity he fell into a dangerous trap. I now know not only how he felt, but also easily understand the terrible consequences of the web of welfare. We have all heard of families, two, three and four generations whose entire lives have been spent on government handouts. Once one goes down that road—especially under a government that strongly encourages it—it is easy to see how one falls into the trap of inactivity and idleness, which leads to lethal laziness destroying all initiative. I have now personally experienced, in a small measure, the tangled web of inactivity. Because of this I can see how easily one can adapt to doing absolutely nothing as long as someone else takes care of them.
Most of you know of my emergency operation in September 2010. I didn’t realize how serious this operation actually was until I found out much later that the survival rate is somewhere from 10 percent to 20 percent, which means for every 10 people who wind up on the operating table only one, at the most two, make it into intensive care and subsequent recovery. So needless to say I feel truly blessed and fortunate. In fact, if I believed there really was such a thing as luck, I would be buying lottery tickets. But I don’t, so I don’t.
For my recuperation period, which would be a minimum of 3 months, my orders were basically no physical activity. I especially was warned about putting any stress on either of my arms and gradually working up to no more than 5 pounds. Now at first three months of having to do nothing sounds attractive. However, this precluded participation in two of my three favorite wintertime indoor activities—namely casting bullets and loading ammunition. Whether tapping open bullet molds or operating a loading press handle, the results would be the same, too much stress on my arms which could affect the healing of my sternum which had been cut totally open.
At least I could read! Well, within limits as the old eyes do not appreciate staring at a printed page all day like they used to. Since this was forced activity for a long period of time, I felt I needed to read something more than just the time-killing Western paperback that always accompanied me in the days when I was still flying. So for the past several months I have been reading from Winston Churchill’s 4-volume set History of the English Speaking Peoples and the Edmund Morris Theodore Roosevelt trilogy. If I couldn’t do anything productive, I could at least spend my time learning something.
A great change has come over me during this time of forced idleness; I have found myself becoming exceptionally lazy. All of my life I have been very active in many ways, however it did not take long for inactivity to change this. This is written on Dec. 15, one week short of my 3-month recuperating. It has taken me nearly 3 weeks to actually call upon enough energy to sit down at the computer and actually do something. Yes, I can definitely now understand how easily people are trapped and destroyed by the nanny state. Fortunately for me, I always like to stay ahead so there will be no holes showing up in my writing assignments for both this magazine and American Handgunner.
Now everything concerned with my inactivity has definitely not been negative. I have spent more time visiting with friends and family. After both magazines posted what had happened to me, the flood of e-mails, cards, letters and phone calls began. These were not only encouraging but also helped to pass a great deal of time and I thank all readers who helped with my recovery. On the opposite face of the coin we find one major danger such as that faced by Theodore Roosevelt more than 100 years ago. There is no way I could ever come close to being as active as he was, in fact he basically wore out his body by the age of 60, however we both faced the problem of inactivity leading to eating too much. He bulked up and fortunately I did not.
I do not believe in coincidence, so it was meant to be when I went with my wife to make a delivery to the daughter of an old friend of ours at a Christmas party in 2009. The dad was there and I took one look at him and said: “Where is the rest of you?” Both of us face the perpetual problem of easy weight gain and he had lost 67 pounds. He was on a special plan and I did not hesitate getting with the program. By the time my emergency operation arrived I weighed more than 80 pounds less than I had the previous year. My doctor thanked me for doing this as it made his job much easier and I’m sure it has also helped with my recuperating. The program I have been following requires me to eat small amounts six times a day and this habit prevented my eating three large meals every day during my healing period. The result is in spite of all this inactivity; I weigh the same amount this morning as I did the day of my surgery. I didn’t gain, but I also did not lose the 25 pounds I still want to take off, so it is now time to adhere more closely to my weight program.
Once I was able to drive and get out a bit another positive emerged, which was having time to do as much sixgun shopping as I wanted to without having to feel I had to hurry home and get back to work. Stopping at Cabela’s and browsing through the gun library I spotted a 5-1/2″ Ruger Super Single-Six .22/.22 Magnum at a most reasonable $299 price tag. Now I already have two of these, but then I have three grandsons so this would complete the necessary trio. That price was only the beginning; pushing a few buttons on the calculator by my friend Ray at the library brought the price down to an even more reasonable $245. I also had a discount card from Cabela’s mailer for $50 bringing it down to $195. Add in my earned Cabela’s points and this early 1960s .22 went out the door for $160. My thought was maybe this inactivity is not so bad after all!
3’s A Charm
That was on a Friday. The following Monday my friend Cactus called me from Boise Gun Company; “Sixgunner there’s a .22 Ruger Single-Six just meant for you here.” I welcomed the chance to get out again and down over the hill I went to find an almost un-fired 1959-ish .22 WMR-only Single-Six. These particular Magnum Rugers were only made from 1959 to 1962. Needless to say I bought this great little .22 also. Now most of us realize good things come in threes and number three was not far behind. Two days later I stopped at Buckhorn and there was another 3-Screw .22 Single-Six. This one had a 6-1/2″ barrel and I have long wanted a 4-5/8″ version, so it was quickly purchased and placed in the hands of my gunsmith Tom Cripe at Buckhorn to be turned into a Perfect Packin’ Pistol .22-style. Of course, this upped the number of Super Single-Sixes on hand, three sixguns, three grandsons, but not to fear this one will eventually go to my son.
The lack of physical activity also allowed much time for thinking. For the past two years I have been trying to figure out how to parcel out my gun collection to family members. With three kids plus their spouses, eight grandkids plus two of their spouses thus far, the list has 16 names on it. I have really been stressed out trying to figure out who gets what.
There are quite a few that are already promised to various members, such as the Red and Wolf .38 Super Colt in the December 2010 issue of this magazine which goes to my youngest grandson who named those dogs, as well as several matching trios for the three grandsons… but what about the rest? I started making a list of 16 names but then realized this is more figuring than I wanted to do. So while sitting and thinking, I decided there will be three family “piles” of guns and each family headed by my three kids can figure it out on their own. Problem solved; stress removed.
With the finishing of this edition of Campfire Tales the drought is over and I’m back to work. I’ll soon be shooting again starting with these little .22s. I have several test guns waiting for my entrance back into the gainfully employed, and my photographer friend Joe is ready to take some man-shooting-gun pictures again. Yes, I feel totally blessed.
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