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Toss and replace are not part of his vocabulary

I just love opening the package of pretty much anything. New, sparkling, fresh, full, smooth, untouched, pristine. I have never been a consignment store shopper, perhaps for this reason. Call me spoiled. 99.9% of the world certainly would.

But once it’s opened, I rarely throw it away. Yes, consumables I toss, but I recycle what I can. Clothing that’s too small, I give away. Out of style, my kids would tell you, is likely still in my closet. If it still fits, I still have it. If it needs repair, I mend it (or ask someone to help who is more gifted in this area than I). Tossing something that is still serviceable goes against the grain.

Aka the "mayor" of John's Creek Starbucks

Aka the “mayor” of John’s Creek Starbucks

Apparently, I come by this honestly. This week I am down visiting with my Dad who lives in the Atlanta suburbs. He has been a golfer (of sorts) for 50+ years. As long as I have known him ūüôā And now, at 78, he still plays regularly with a group of guys. His participation over the last few years has been interrupted by some serious health scares. Truth be told, we should have lost him several times over.

We’re talking after his Sunday round about simplifying club selection.

“Inside 120, I reach for an iron,” I say.

“Well…I have a problem from 90 down to 40 yards. I use my 34 degree metal and just choke down. I shank the rest of my irons.”

I’m laughing at the thought of this nearly 80 year old man, bunting the ball all the way onto the green. Mind you, he carries the regulation 14 clubs, but he only uses about 5 of them. If they don’t work, he shelves them and makes do with the one that does. He improvises.

“Have you considered correcting your swing?” I ask, in not exactly these words. Correction is not something he takes easily to.

“No one can see me hitting it with the hozzle,” he says. (which is what causes shanking)

So, since no one can see it happening, this must be out of his control. Therefore, compensation is the solution. Enter: 34 degree metal. (what I used to call “a wood.”) Right on down to 40 yards.

While this cracks me up, it’s completely logical to him. He just makes do with what works. And that works. He is a self-sufficient guy and this is sufficiency.

Reminds me of Paul, “for I have learned to be content¬†whatever the circumstances.” ~ (Phil 4:11)¬†Another way to say that the solution is there, whatever your need. Trust this. Find it and make do.

Adding me as a "new contact"

Adding me as a “new contact”

This golf-specific compensation might go unnoticed if I didn’t also observe it in most everything my dad does. He has been a fix-it guy all his life. Replacing things is just not his way. Doesn’t work? Well, modify it so it does.

Apparently, this nature of my dad’s has been passed along to me, right down to my “mom jeans” that still hang in the closet. And actually, to my visit with my dad this week. I look at this man, who in his sleeping, dreams about the days when the world rewarded his clever capacity to problem solve and turn companies around. Now, he sits in Starbucks most mornings and converses with folks, some of whom need a bit of life guidance. He’s still fixing. Toss and replace just aren’t in his vocabulary.

This is so contrary to the world I see whizzing by my window. The one that rushes for the next iPhone, the latest upgrade, the newest fashion. Market forces, new start-ups and trending on twitter drive the pace. Whatever has gone before is obsolete. That would include my dad. And me, soon to follow.

Obsolescence. Waste. Worthlessness. I feel sure these were never God’s idea. Yes, we decline. But when we’re no longer shiny, new and pristine, we are still serviceable.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.¬†Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly¬†we are being renewed¬†day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,¬†since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2 Cor 4:16-18.

What we will be remains to be seen … In the meantime, I’m gonna see if I can help Dad with those shanks. I think he can still break 90. Whether he can ever shoot his age is up for grabs.

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Dad doesn’t believe in countdowns

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Seeing, Only Deeper

I’m just interested in stuff. In people. In things. In how things work. In how people work. In what I see and hear. What I read and find out. I guess you could call me naturally¬†inquisitive. And what I find out, I write down. I take note (s).

This is funny because I don’t see that well. My eyesight isn’t that good. I attribute this to sitting in classrooms and lecture halls for many years and straining over text books at late hours.¬†Plunking¬†away at (yes) typewriter keyboards. In college I got ‘distance’ glasses. In the last year I have adopted reading glasses. And how I see what falls¬†in between¬†is any body’s guess.

But while my eyesight has gotten worse my seeing has improved. I notice things. Things other people don’t necessarily see. Maybe it’s just that I happen to be looking, but I think it’s more. I think it has more to do with attention.

Not that long ago I was very concerned about what others saw in me. Not on the outside; I’ve never been much of a fashion-plate. More, about what they thought when they saw what I was doing. Some people would call this ‘setting a good example’. Some would say I was being a ‘good role model.’ I would say, it got in my way. Concerning myself with those looking, impaired my eyesight. The things I was meant to see that I was missing.

More and more, I am just noticing things. And because I am inquisitive, I wonder about them. Yesterday, I arrived for our very small mid-week communion service (there are usually only a few people other than church staff in attendance) just as a cab was pulling up in front. Out climbed three older women who live just down the street in subsidized housing for elders. They opened their pocketbooks to pull out change to pay the fare they split three ways.

I wondered about this. Three women, so set on coming to worship, they handed over their last coins. ¬†They didn’t see me watching. Stuff like this, small stuff I just notice, changes me. And I take note. I think it’s helping me see.

Funny, I went to see the ophthalmologist last week. Hadn’t been in years, but my glasses weren’t correcting my vision as well as they used to. Dr. Rich did his evaluation. “Ok. Good. Uh huh. Try this one.” That’s all they say. You try your best but you never know whether you’re getting it right. He pulls the optical device away and says, “Well, your eyesight has improved. That happens in 30% of people as they age.”

Well, what do you know? My farsightedness¬†is actually better than it used to be. My brain sensed this, but my eyes were deceiving me. Getting better with age? Not exactly, just a bit more focused. I think God’s like that. To tune in our senses, He just sheds a bit more light on the subject.

Caring for Time In a Body

A friend is having surgery tomorrow. Needs his meniscus repaired. He messaged me on Facebook a week or 2 ago to ask whether I thought he should get a second opinion. Because, after “this guy gets the MRI results he might not want to do what I want to do.” Which, I subsequently found out, was to avoid surgery and “just rehab the knee to make it work so I can run again.”

I explained what I knew about¬†menisci¬†and their pesky tendency not to heal themselves because they don’t have their own blood supply and rarely are near enough to steal from a nearby vessel. He thanked me and continued to¬†peruse¬†the online sites for orthopedists with extensive sports medicine backgrounds, shopping for someone who would favor a return to action, even if surgery became necessary.

He found said doctor. Tomorrow is fix-it day. Thursday begins his return to action.

Funny, though, through this interchange of messages I have heard the heart of this man. Mid 50’s. Active. Has an outdoor lawn business. He needs his body to work well. It pretty much always has. When stuff like this upends us it makes us face the reality that, with or without our permission, time marches on. Our bodies don’t stay young forever. At some point, we can’t stem the tide of age and gradual (if we’re lucky) decline.

Oh, if extreme illness or circumstance have brought us to this realization earlier in life, it seems unfair. And indeed, it seems to be. Still, for those of us who are given our half-decade of relatively good health and physical performance, we consider this a raw deal. Why can’t we slow down time? How can it rob us of all the good years we know we have left?

No one can slow time, except God himself. But I wonder if the myth we hold onto – that we should be able to – may be a carrot dangled by the Great Liar himself. “Ah, there’s plenty of time, don’t worry.” “Look how healthy you are, you’re gonna live forever!” “Oh, even if something happens, you’re strong, you’re in good shape, you can get it back.” “Pay no attention to Father Time.”

And this deception takes our attention from truth: we must use well the time we have been given.

We must care for our time. Our bodies provide a tangible sense of this and an active practice for this.¬†Things¬†last longer and perform better when they are well cared for. For the timid among us, that may translate into (self) preservation. A kind of “don’t sit on the good couch” approach or a “put it in the safety deposit box so it can’t get stolen” approach. For the bold among us, that may translate into 3 hour workouts everyday, every week until I collapse in exhaustion. Neither under-use nor over-use are good care.

Neither honors the gift – of time in a body for exactly one life. It’s meant to be used, but also maintained for optimal performance. God alone knows our optimum.

Our time in our body is finite. Bodies well cared for last longer and perform better, but use them we must. That’s why they were given to us. But responsibly, respectfully, and attentively. It’s a give and take approach. God has given, we take and give back. When something gets rusty or run down, we check under the hood. What we can’t fix with a bit of rest or a change in routine we get checked out by the best mechanic we can find. Then, we weigh their advice and choose how to proceed.

Sometimes, we have to downshift, and watch the newer, younger models whiz past us. Let ’em feel good about passing me. I’m incredibly grateful just to still be in this race, engine running fairly well.¬†We do know how that worked out for the tortoise.

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