Fully fit member in mind, body

Name: Donald B. Ardell.

Where I live: Downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.

When and where I was born: July 18, 1938, Philadelphia, Pa., in a hospital named Misericordia (a wobbly start for a future freethinker).

Family: Wife, Carol; daughter, Jeanne; son Jon; and grandchildren, Charles Grant, 8, Cadence, 8, and Buddy Miles, 6.

Education: George Washington University (sociology), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (urban planning), Stanford University (business) and Union Institute & University, Cincinnati (doctorate in health and public policy).

Occupation: Promoter (as essayist, author and speaker) of exceptional physical and mental health based upon reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty. 

Military service: Three years in the U.S. Air Force.

How I got where I am today: Contingencies as unlikely if less consequential than those described by Stephen Jay Gould of how we all got to be here in his glorious opus Wonderful Life.

Where I’m headed: More or less in the same direction I’m going, for pretty much the reasons that got me on this path, including but not limited to trial and error, reading, asking questions and taking notes from the profiles of the glorious infidels featured in Freethought of the Day.

Person in history I admire and why: Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99) for the life he led and the body of work he left behind. His speeches still dazzle, inform, inspire and motivate. His passions, themes and causes we, too, embrace and seek yet — secular democracy, emancipation of the oppressed, justice for all, reason as the best guide, joy the highest virtue, happiness the greatest good, science the truest source and natural wonders the only worship.  

Ingersoll’s genius guided secularists then and still to this day on how to be free, rational and appreciative of science and nature. 

A quotation I like: My favorite comes from a speech Ingersoll delivered at the Lotos Club in New York City on March 22, 1890: “And yet, after all, what would this world be without death? It may be from the fact that we are all victims, from the fact that we are all bound by common fate; it may be that friendship and love are born of that fact; but whatever the fact is, I am perfectly satisfied that the highest possible philosophy is to enjoy today, not regretting yesterday, and not fearing tomorrow. So, let us suck this orange of life dry, so that when death does come, we can politely say to him, ‘You are welcome to the peelings. What little there was we have enjoyed.’ ”

The last sentence of the quotation appears in large letters on the back of the cycling jersey I wear that my wife made for me. It has generated many an affable conversation during post-ride coffee breaks.

These are a few of my favorite things: Writing essays on politics, sex, religion and real wellness; vegan dining; time with my wife, children and friends; classical music; novels; biographies; red wine; triathlons and road races (for starters on things I like). 

These are not: I try not to pay attention but if pressed would certainly have to mention anything associated with religion, environmental degradation, animal husbandry, hunting for sport, the fact that the 1% control too much of society’s resources. 

My doubts about religion started: When I learned to think for myself, even a little bit (approximately around age 12). 

Why I’m a freethinker: I can’t envision any other options that seem sensible, attractive and conducive to the way I choose to think and live. 

Ways I promote freethought: In my conversations, the essays and books I write, the speeches I give and the life I lead.

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