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Ledger's death, healthy living - and hockey - Johnny Jackson

The recent passing of actor Heath Ledger at 28 years old has me re-thinking my own mortality.

Just hearing the news that someone as vibrant as Ledger was not able to live into old age has me questioning my ability to live naturally into my golden years.

Indeed, I have become increasingly aware of my health, as well as the health of the environment, which no less affects my health.

I assume that most people have known others - relatives, friends, or acquaintances - with health issues.

Well, I am no different.

I have a family history with physical health issues. All sides of my lineage have had one illness or another, from cancer to diabetes.

I think I am relatively healthy, but I have actively made steps recently to improve my health, even If it is just cutting out half of the fat in the food I eat, or drinking water instead of dark cola.

I have been going to the doctor a lot lately, too, getting extra immunizations and blood work done.

So far, I have been told I'm healthy.

I don't drink regularly. I have never smoked. And the only medication I take now is over-the-counter Advil for migraines - even then, I rarely take it.

So, why am I so concerned now about my health? I have been asked this, and have not been able to answer it.

I think it is likely a phase in my life in which I have been presented with so much health-related information, if not by my work, then by other media. And, I may get the education of my life on health matters because of it.

It's sort of like any time you venture into something you know little about, but come out of it with a whole lot of knowledge.

Take hockey, for instance. In my case, I did not like it as a sport. I thought it was an unintelligible game, until I sat through a professional hockey game (post-lockout). Now, I am learning more about the sport, and it ain't half-bad - not my favorite - but not bad.

I'm actually interested in learning more about hockey, and have attended Atlanta Thrashers games regularly.

My point? Maybe the Thrashers are earning a lifelong hockey fan, and maybe my health consciousness now will be an asset to me into my golden years.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.