Mercurious: “So, Geezers,, you’re clearly men of intent, and undoubtedly you start each new year with fresh resolve. So what are your goals for 2014, my good fellows?”
Dr. Golf: "Let's see, let me think...."
Professor: “Well, just off the top of my head:
|The Professor's version of a full-court press.|
“#10. To play even less defense on the basketball court. I love playing basketball, and I'm thankful I can still pull myself up and down the court. And I know that the game is supposed to be both offense and defense but…enough with the expectation that I hustle on defense. As a Geezer, I should have a full and unfettered right to save my energy to take foolish shots and talk trash. Yes, by all means go through the motions on defense, but to really play it like you mean it—I’ll leave that to the kids in their forties.”
Mercurious: “Admirable that you can still get up and down the floor. As a variation of your #`10—mind you, my knees can’t take basketball anymore—I’m going to resolve to do more walking in 2014. I slacked a bit in 2013, I’m afraid. Walking for me is just plain good for the soul, in a kind of Thoreau way. It puts me in real contact with the world, which simply isn’t possible when driving in a car.
Mathematician: “So first, I’m not sure I can do 10 resolutions. I can barely remember to take the car keys and my coffee in the morning. 10 is just a lot more resolute than I care to be. But here goes. My #10 is weirdly parallel to the Professor’s. After a 1 year layoff I plan to play basketball every Sunday in 2014 that I’m in town. I do not plan to hustle – ever. Nor will I take foolish shots. Indeed on any given Sunday I may not shoot at all. But I will sweat, rebound and set devastating picks. And I can only hope that next time the Professor wanders through town he makes a guest appearance on my home court. I’d love to stuff his jump shot just once.”
Mercurious: “Courageous, M. And don’t worry. I have it on good authority that the Professor’s "jump shot" more closely resembles a really bad Cousy set-shot during Bob’s final days.”
Dr. Golf: "If you ask me....."
Professor: “#9. To continue to work hard at sleeping in. Research show us that many people—as
they age—tend to have difficulty
sleeping as late into the morning as they used to. A dilemma indeed.
It's akin to loosing your ability to gorge yourself quite as much on a
fine meal with multiple beverages, or losing your ability to…well, let's just
say losing other important abilities. The solution (as always):
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. I have made good progress on such
practice over the holiday and I intend to keep up the diligent work in 2014”
|The Professor resolutely practicing resolution #9|
Mercurious: “Well, I’m one of those early risers you talk about, and my resolution will be quite the opposite: I’m going to stop fretting about the fact that I don’t sleep all that much. I’m simply resolving to go with the flow on that matter and stop worrying that I don’t sleep a lot. And after all, early morning sex fantasies are among the very best. “
Mathematician: “I must never give in to the urge to sleep in. Having joined the ranks of the unemployed, sleeping late is the first step on a slippery slope that ends with me living under a bridge in a box wondering if Soft Scrub is a good toothpaste. So I resolve to be up by 6:30 each day. And make the bed by 7, to make my dead Grandmother proud and to prevent the dreaded ‘morning nap’”.
Dr.Golf: "Well, yeah......"
Professor: “#8. To keep my powers of judgmentality. So when did exercising judgment get to be such a bad thing. To be called judgmental is comparable to be called a bigot—or worse—an old geezer. Let us all continue to work on developing our (best, most reasoned and most legitimately supported) judgments through 2014.”
Mercurious: “I’m quite sure that will be a very easy one for you to keep, Professor. An editorial note, by the way: judgmentality is a not a word. Weighing in at #8 for me: ‘To continue simplifying my life.' I’m at that stage where I have enough physical stuff, and my head is plenty full of information already.”
Mathematician: “Mercurious, we find you to be a plenty simple fellow already…..The problem with being judgmental is not our inability to reason. It is our inability to gather evidence. I may judge the poor soul asking for bus fair to be a worthy recipient of my donation, until I later see him enter a seedy bar. So I will resolve to reserve judgment as long as necessary, which is to say unless and until it is demanded of me. Offering judgments just to show that I can seems like a bad idea. Or so I judge.
Mercurious: “If the alternative to simplicity is that kind of cryptic gibberish, Math, I’ll double down on the simplicity resolution, thank you very much.
Dr. Golf: "(Clears his throat)"
|No words necessary,|
Professor: “All right then, #7—To consume quality food and drink whenever possible (and hopefully in excessive quantities on occasion) As geezerhood overtakes some of us, we cannot drink or eat like we used to without it going straight to our waistline (although sometimes I wonder if my wife's exhortation not to be such a fathead might not be anatomically precise.) If we can't do the quantity like we used to, perhaps we should double-down on the quality. (16 year old Lagavulin here we come…and don't forget the Cuban cigars!)
Mercurious: “No criticism there, Professor, and since we’re on a wining/dining theme, my #8 resolution is two-part: first, to drop my snobbery in rejecting bourbon and rye whiskey and insisting only upon Scotch. I resolve to more often take the Mathematician up on his offers of alternative whiskeys. Secondly, I resolve to eat when hungry, and to fast when I’m not. I’m well aware that all too often I eat from habit. I will, however, continue to define thirst very broadly.”
Mathematician: “At last. A resolution I can sink my teeth into. I resolve to enjoy more what I eat and drink. Since we are given a limited budget of calories and sobriety each day, why not spend them in the best way we can. I resolve to be willing to take more time and care to craft truly memorable meals. And yes, I will serve the good Bourbon to friends and enjoy it as much as my solitary glass at the end of the day. No Lagavulin in my bar, but Stagg and Old Weller, most definitely.”
Mercurious: “Pretty much every meal I’ve ever had at your house, Math, is a gourmet treat, so I guess I’ll just need to eat there all the time…what time is dinner?”
Dr. Golf: "As I was saying—"
Professor: “To continue: #6. To care more about unimportant things. Treating unimportant things as if they were important is the key to so much in life that it's almost impossible to go into here. Suffice it to say that—ultimately —controlling the Orange monopoly (St. James, Tennessee, and New York Avenues) is not an important thing. But without the ability to care about getting such properties, the game doesn't have much appeal. The same goes for life, as I as I was reminded last Sunday when my oldest son (a Jets fan) invited me over to his new "man cave" to watch the Eagles kick the Cowboys in just the right spot. His observation: "It's more fun to watch the game with someone who really cares." Fun indeed.”
Mercurious: “interesting. I’ll spin a similar subject at #6: ‘To do only what is necessary, and not waste time on the unnecessary.’ By this, I don’t mean to cavalierly slouch through life, but rather to choose to act on things that are truly relevant, and engage them wholeheartedly. Life would be far more interesting, I think, if people believed that every action was meaningful and important.”
Mathematician: “Caring enough to live life with some passion seems a good resolution in this vein. As Roald Dahl puts it in Uncle Oswald, … ‘if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it’. I think I have earned my stripes in Football, Monopoly, Risk, Wine and Bourbon. Drawing upon observation of my implacable demeanor, few acquaintances would call me passionate. But many of my close friends would.
Mercurious: “Passionate? I guess that’s accurate, although ‘compulsive/obsessive’ was the term that first came to mind, Math. And frankly, when it comes to Monopoly, you're not all that impressive.”
Dr. Golf: "If you ask me...."
Professor: “All right then. At #5. To be a role model in "wasting" time. Yes, we all have to work
hard, and yes, there
are times in life when you just have to keep the pedal to the metal and keep
going no matter what. But what fun is geezerhood if we can't share the
fundamental wisdom that many of the novel, distinctive and/or creative ideas we
get about our lives occur in time that would be described by an outside
observer as "wasted." I waste time sipping on a cool one
walking around my pastures "checking the fences." Others stare
at the moon as it rises fat on the horizon. Here's to a year in which we
all find gaps that we don't fill with activity…without activity, perhaps ideas
or insight might fill these gaps instead.”
|Geezers are highly skilled at wasting time, as evidenced here.|
Mercurious: “No argument from me here. Well stated.”
Mathematician: “The kind of thoughtful leisure that you both describe is part of the spirituality that make us men. You both know I’m opposed to ‘organized religion’. And that I cherish Greek philosophy. So an easy #5 for me is to live the examined life, as Socrates exhorts. Not to get lost in my own world of questions and self doubt. But to take time each day to walk the dog, which is really just an excuse to reflect on the day. I probably don’t really need a resolution for this. It’s ingrained in my nature. But what the hell, at least this is one resolution I will keep even if I can’t remember it.
Mercurious: “That’s fine. Just as long as you pick up the dog shit when you walk the beast.”
Dr. Golf: "Say what?"
Professor: “#4. To find joy in the problems of humanity. We know that people's imperfections are often the things that make them most lovable. My mom has always had a special bond with my diabetic brother; the kid who has to work hardest on an exam elicits our sympathy and good feelings intuitively. Could we take this idea and apply it to humanity? Lord knows that Syria, the Duck Dynasty and Congress have all exposed the weaknesses of humanity to us, as one silliness leads to another and one conflict breeds two more. I want to find a way that the imperfections of what we collectively refer to as "humanity" can become as lovable as the imperfections of those individuals closest to us (as I mentioned above, my son is a Jets fan, Lord love him!)”
Mercurious: “Most excellently stated, Professor. I’m jealous that you phrased this so romantically, as I don’t think of you as a touchy-feely fellow, generally. Extending this a little bit in my own direction, at #4 I’ll resolve to make my favorite Joseph Campbell principle a little more central in my life: “Cheerfully embrace all the joys and sorrows that life has to offer.”
Mathematician: “I don’t want to spoil this love fest, so I will grudgingly agree to embrace both life’s joy and sorrow. But I am suspicious of this one. Some imperfections are downright unlovable. I will not snoodle Hannibal Lecter .”
Mercurious: “Nien, my good Mathematician. We’re not talking evil here, just normal human failings. Recognizing those failings is the source of all human compassion, and sure you and Socrates wouldn’t piss on that virtue. The Professor had it exactly right here.”
Professor: “I get all tingly when you approve of me, Mercurious. So let’s stay on the roll. At #3: To keep score. Many people refer to "keeping score" in a negative way, and it can be, if it prevents you from enjoying the "game." But on the other hand (as I learned while coaching grade school basketball years ago when one well-meaning coach successfully proposed eliminating the scoreboard) the game tends to be less fun if no one is keeping score. And besides, even when one claims they're not keeping score, they really are.
|The Professor, seeking to accumulate|
even more merit points.
“Same goes for personal relationships. The "score" doesn't have to even out at the end of the day (or even at the end of the year.) But a general sense of where you stand in a relationship (whether you are in "debit" or "credit") is a useful tool as you continue forward into a new year. If you are in debit, it helps you generate the appropriate gratitude for the special relationship, and the energy to give as much as you can to the relationship in the future; if you are in "credit" it just plain makes you feel good, which leads to more generosity. Keep score, by all means (but keep score carefully—and keep it to yourself.)”
Mercurious: “Well there’s a uniquely Professorial resolution, if I ever heard one. At #3 for me: I resolve to live with more softness and vulnerability. There was a time that I tended to live very defensively, a little angrily, even, and I occasionally lapse back into that, unfortunately. But each time I wake up again, I’ve always found that there’s really great merit to staying in touch with one’s basic pain of living, and not trying to defend against it.”
Mathematician: “Since I love statistics, I definitely defend keeping score. Without ‘knowing the score’, it becomes really hard to adapt. And since living is changing, I’d rather be measured in my reactions and use the score to guide my choices. The problem, of course, is that statistics can lie. Losers often think they are winning. And the tallies I keep to myself don’t gain me any points with my spouse. So I guess I’ll go with softness and vulnerability. The vulnerable Mathematician shall I be.
Dr. Golf: "What were we talking about?"
Professor; “2. To stay out of touch. With Skype, e-mail and cell phones at our disposal, the old cliché request to "keep in touch" has taken on new meaning. While I find emerging communications technology to be astounding, I do wonder sometimes if I really want to be as "in touch" as technology allows me to be. Many of my College students are "in touch" with their parents on a daily basis. My New Year’s wish for many with whom I am in touch: live life fully, and when next we meet (and I mean "meet" as in being in the same room together) we can share some great stories accompanied by some high quality beverages (see 7 above.) Being constantly in touch can steal the thunder of experiences that—much like fine wines—improve with a bit of time and yeasty "fermentation" that turns experience into stories of distinct color and insight.”
Mercurious: “I’ll just join you wholeheartedly on this one, Professor, if you don’t mind. It’s a great irony to me that people who are constantly in electronic contact seem to have far less intimacy than the people who take your great good advice to stay unconnected at the right times.”
Mathematician: “Uh…ditto. And may twitter find a well deserved early grave.”
Dr. Golf: "I guess if I were going to weigh in...."
Professor: “1. To be old at heart. The headline in the local paper will read: "85 Years Young!!" As the famous 70's philosopher Mr. T might say: "I pity the fool." Just as kids should be allowed to be kids, there is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging your age—even if (especially if) it is somewhat advanced. Let's face it: we know more than we used to, we have (hopefully) learned some things the hard way. We've got our BA from the University of Hard Knocks (some stayed for graduate school.) I'll try not to be a windbag (as my fellow geezers know, there is small chance of that happening!) but I will look for opportunities to share my hard-earned geezer perspective. (Examples: "That's better than a sharp stick in the eye", "if you get into a contest of strength with a horse, the horse will win every time"…things like that….)
Mercurious: “Interesting perspective, Professor. I take your point; I find nothing sadder than the
who seem terrified by growing older, who take every measure to hide the fact,
acting like teenagers when they’re 70 years old. A tangential geezer we both
know professes to long for the day when humans will live youthfully for 200
years. Not me, I have to tell you. Can
you imagine anything more unpleasant than a society that had no need for the fresh
renewal offered by new generations? So
at #1 for me: I resolve to remember, as Wordsworth said, that “the child is the
father to the man,” and not take my geezerhood too seriously, even while I
|The Geezers, embracing their well-earned decrepitude.|
Mathematician: “ Hmm. If this is my number one resolution for 2014, embracing my Geezerhood doesn’t feel like the right thing. Not that I fear death. And I certainly don’t deny my advancing age by acting like a teenager. But since my Atheist self doesn’t look for my reward in the hereafter, I must instead come to grips with my mortality in a different way. I don’t expect to become famous, so I can’t expect to be immortalized like Shakespeare or Kardashian. I guess I will resolve to find peace in the arms of my children and my father. I will write more about him, and me and them without the self-consciousness that can so easily block expression. I will remember him to them and in that way bring him (and me) at least some measure of immortality. Our family name may not live as long as some others, but it will find life for a few more generations. That should be good enough. And maybe I won’t notice the awful smell at the nursing home so much if I’m distracted by such noble thoughts.
Mercurious: A very fine way to end things, I think. Thank you Geezers, one and all.
Dr. Golf: "What?"