Monday, April 8, 2013

Old Man Strength.

About eight years ago I was in Israel to watch my older daughter swim in the Maccabi Games. For those who aren't initiates in the ways of the Tribe of Abraham and Moses, the Maccabi Games are essentially the Jewish Olympics. Jews from scores, if not hundreds of countries around the world compete in scores, if not hundreds of athletic events.

My daughter Sarah was a gifted distance swimmer and made the team. My wife and I, of course, flew out to see her compete.

One night we visited Sarah at her hotel. She was sitting in the lobby on the lap of a young American athlete. She stood up and so did the kid on whose lap she was perched. And we all shook hands or kissed.

My daughter on a boy's lap--my paternal protective side was in full fury--I said to the kid:

"What sport are you competing in?"

"I'm a wrestler."

I looked him up and down. "I can kick your ass," I said, reassuring myself.

Now, he looked me up and down. "You probably can," he said, "you have old man strength."

Since that moment, the notion of "Old Man Strength" has stayed with me. I notice when furniture needs to be moved in my apartment, or a carpet rolled up, I am worth two workmen. I do myself what it usually takes a small crew to accomplish.

But there's another sort of Old Man Strength, too. And I've noticed it hanging out here in New Zealand with my friend, Terry.

We have the strength to read books and look for meaning.

We have the strength to appreciate new art while understanding the old.

We have the strength to question orthodoxy and establishment thinking, as befits our 60s upbringing.

We have the strength of having survived business upheavals and economic disruption and malaise.

Our strength is in learning. In questioning. In our stamina.

Now, I am not for a minute saying that young people can't or don't possess these qualities.

But I am saying you'd be a fool to bet against an old man.

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