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active

Active has a few meanings as an adjective and a couple as a noun.

Let’s first tackle one of the adjective meanings, the one that the fitness nut jobs, I mean enthusiasts like to talk about. When they say we should be active they mean we should go jogging, take vigorous walks, use the cardio machines at gyms, lift weights and/or do some other at least moderately vigorous activity for twenty minutes, or preferably more, at least a few times every single goddamn week.

But how active do you have to be to be considered active? I’m sitting at my computer. My fingers are flying, or as close to flying as my moderately adept touch-typing skill allows. My heart is beating. My lungs are expanding and contracting. My digestive system is processing food. And there are a whole host of other actions going on inside my body.

By that definition, the only time I’ll be totally inactive is when I’m dead. And even then, I won’t know it, but my body will be busy decomposing. Although, I don’t think that counts as activity.

So, I would argue that I’m active even while just sitting here typing on my computer. Those fitness nut jobs enthusiasts, be damned. Or maybe I’m just making excuses for not going to the gym today. I always like to have ready excuses to avoid the gym.

That having been said, if the only activity you ever engage in is the beating of your heart and the expansion and contraction of your lungs then, in all likelihood, your life will be shorter than the lives of joggers. Then again, if those joggers do their jogging down the middle of busy expressways you probably have them beat in the long-life department by, if you’ll pardon the expression, a country mile. So there’s that.

Active can also mean that work is being done, or may be done in the near future, on the thing that is described as being active. For example, if the police have an active case that means they are chasing down the criminal or they plan to right after they finish their coffee and doughnut. That may be so, but if your bike was stolen a week ago, but you only noticed its absence now and you report the theft to the police, it may be an active police case, but you should probably consider getting a new bike because your old one likely won’t be returning home. Ever.

Active can also describe someone’s relationship to a job. For example, soldiers might be on active duty, rather than, say, training or on furlough. Being on active duty increases the likelihood that they will be doing some shooting and having some shots fired at them. I’ve never been In the military, but being in training or on furlough sounds to me like a more relaxing, safer gig than being on active duty. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I can’t imagine that I am.

The adjective active can also describe a verb or a the way a sentence is structured. In that case, the person or thing performing the action (the verb in the sentence) is the subject of the sentence and the person or thing that the action is done to or received by is the object of the sentence. For example, “The used car salesperson lies to the prospective buyers,” would be an active sentence using an active verb form. The used car salesperson is the subject of the sentence. The prospective buyers are the subject of the sentence. And I suspect that the statement would often be true.

As a noun, active names the active form of a verb or the active voice of a language. That’s getting circular, isn’t it. A noun names a verb form. Then again, verb is also a noun and noun is a noun, but neither noun nor verb are verbs. Confused yet? In truth, there’s absolutely nothing to be confused about regarding verb and noun being a nouns, but I’m doing my best to make it appear confusing because that’s just the sort of guy I am.

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