(The title line comes from Cat Stevens's Father and Son.)
In my Pain as Illumination post, I highlighted one of the most touching father scenes in literature -- the encounter of Priam and Achilles. In general, though, I've tended to side with youth. (For example: Here. Here. Here.) Now I also honor the old(er).
12 Things I Learned from My Father:
1. Age touches even the mighty: My father went from running a 10k race to walking with a cane to having hip replacement surgery in mere months. All of this before graying. And the "good" hip will also need to be replaced soon.
2. Keep room on the shelf for Dostoevsky and Homer. I even later stole some of those shelves to furnish my apartment.
3. But it's also okay to stay up to finish the Sword of Shannara series. What now looks like insomnia was then impressive precocity.
4. How to lift weights. An essential skill for someone like me who moves often and has lots of books.
5. Treat animals kindly, even snakes. Or especially snakes. You don't want to know how many pet snakes I had growing up. As a kid, my dad had two pet garter snakes that he named Hektor and Achilles after one tried to swallow the other (in an argument over a worm).
6. Milk is for babies; wise men drink beer. Whoops. That lesson actually came from someone else. I drank milk by the gallon as a kid. Still haven't broken a bone that I know of.
7. Anger is often counterproductive and self-defeating. Calm is not easy, but it gets easier as you go.
8. Sometimes you need to turn it up to 11. The first guitar I played was a Gibson Hummingbird knock-off I borrowed from him. The neighbors, in the spirit of those at the Newport Folk Festival, probably wished I'd never plugged in.
9. Root against the Dallas Cowboys. Being a decent person, I probably would have arrived at this anyways. But it's nice to learn some things early.
10. Why Carl Jung is Still Worth Studying. If you're interested, I have a recent blog post on the subject.
11. Play the game the way the refs are calling it. No use in raging against structural factors you can't control. Push where they can't see. Adapt. Adjust. Be smart. I can't call him the best coach I ever encountered, since this guy was hanging around the Princeton travel soccer program when I was there, but he was pretty darn good and coaching is pretty dang hard.
12. Find your talent, find your bliss. Still working on this one, but I've got you readers to guide me as well. Now my sins are my own.
Care to add a 13th lesson? Do wise men drink beer? Favorite lesson from your own father?
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