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Age Treachery Youth Exuberance

Age Treachery Youth Exuberance

Hello and good day!

I had the opportunity to play a game of pick-up basketball yesterday.

I wasn't properly dressed for the occasion because I didn't show up at the park intending to participate in competitive sportsmanship.

There were a bunch of youngsters, ages 16, 17, and 18, I'd guess, shooting around on a court and they needed one more to make it an even number.

My kids were playing on a playground off to the side of the basketball court, and I was standing there near a jungle gym, on a floor covered by light tan woodchips, keeping an eye on them.

One of the youngsters called over to me.

"Hey man!"

I didn't turn to look at first because it didn't compute that I could be the person to whom he was calling out.

"Hey! You! On the playground!" "Hey man! I'm talking to you!"

Finally, it dawned on me that I was the only person in the vicinity.

I turned around.

"Yes?" I asked.

"You want to play with us?"

"Who me?"

I touched my chest with the pointer finger and middle finger of my right hand to drive home the fact that I was the "me" that I had referred to with my question.

"Yeah. You. We need one more."

"Ok. Let me tell my wife," I said.

I don't think you could tell it by looking at me, but I love to play basketball.

I played my entire childhood and every time I see a group of young men playing basketball in a park, I grow nostalgic.

That was me when I was their age.

I was a kid who spent hours every day playing basketball with my friends.

One group of friends would go home, and another would show up, and I'd still be there. I'd stay until the sun went down and we couldn't see the ball anymore.

Then I'd go home all sweaty, with black hands that had been dirtied by the blacktop. By the time I'd showered and settled in and had dinner, I was too tired to study.

This contributed significantly to my poor academic record.

I preferred playing to studying.

Many times, as an adult, especially in recent years, I've wished that a group of youngsters would invite me to play in a pickup game.

Now was my chance and I was very excited by it.

I walked over to my wife who was standing on a grass field, in a half circle, with several other women who had also brought their children to the park to play.

I butted into the conversation they were having.

"Excuse me, honey. I'm sorry to interrupt. These young men over here on the basketball court have invited me to join their game. Can you keep an eye on the kids while I play?"

I tried to suppress a smile that was involuntarily forming on my face.

I don't know why I felt I should fight off the smile and squash it down.

Maybe I thought I would seem cooler in front of this group of women if I was nonchalant about the whole thing.

They clearly saw through my attempt at being suave.

I know because they were all fighting to suppress smiles of their own.

"Go ahead," said my wife.

She looked at the other women in the group when she said it and they looked back at her, each with laughter in her eyes.

I understand that it must be funny to see a grown man excited as if he were a young boy.

I took off running.

"Thanks honey!" I yelled over my shoulder as I ran across the grass field back towards the court.

It was an especially beautiful early evening. Cool and dry.

The sky was golden yellow and clear, lit by a descending sun, and accented with a slight remnant of thin wispy clouds.

Golden light shined up as bursting rays from behind the Olympic Mountain range, which we could see as shadows far in the distance, slanting down into our great big, dark blue, Puget Sound.

Sun rays painted slight clouds bright pink and underneath the magnificent sky, I approached the court to live out a fantasy.

I was already breathing hard from the short run.

"My wife says she'll watch the kids. I can play," I said panting.

"Cool. Let's go," said the fellow who had called me over.

We broke up into teams.

I met my teammates and introduced myself to each with a handshake.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Adam."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Adam."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Adam."

We were playing four on four.

The young fellows looked at me with great pity and wonderment, confused by my formality and politeness.

"Uh, nice to meet you?" they replied, not fully believing their own words.

Then we got going.

I was the slowest player. I was the most out of shape.

I was certainly the baldest.

And my team won 5 straight games in dominant fashion.

Do you know the saying, "old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance?"

My dad used to say it to me all the time when I was growing up.

He would roll it out whenever he beat me at horse on the hoop hung over our home driveway.

It is one of those sayings that all young people instinctively disbelieve.

When you are young, you are certain that youth and exuberance must defeat anything and everything in their path.

But now I know.

My dad was right all those years.

These young guys could run and jump and dribble and spin and chase down loose balls.

And damned if they didn't look good and strong while they were doing it.

Unfortunately for them though, they hadn't yet learned that basketball is a game of passing and rebounding and hitting a teammate on a backdoor cut.

None of those things require a person to move around too much.

What they require are unselfishness, situational understanding, leadership, and wisdom.

This confirmed one of my core beliefs about life.

Wisdom and experience are game changing qualities.

You need hard driving energy in order to be successful in most endeavors.

But that hard energy must be channeled and directed properly.

All things being equal, wisdom and understanding tend to carry the day.

Youthful exuberance is a gift of nature.

Wisdom must be cultivated.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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