Happy Fred Friday
Advice from a wise old Jewish man on his birthday.
Miranda here! Happy Friday, happy Elul, but most importantly… happy birthday, Dad! My dad turns 94 today and I’m (reluctantly) letting him take over The Shabbat Drop this week. Wish Fred a happy birthday in the comments and read the wisdom he’s accumulated over the years below.
I just got old!
I am honored that my lovely daughter Miranda has asked me to write something since it is another one of my birthdays. I have had a lot of them. This will be the 94th.
People that manage to live a lot of years are asked by curious younger folks what “the secret” is to living many years. The answers spouted tend to be cute but utterly worthless. A few wise oldsters simply state: it is in the genes. But I gave up wearing jeans a long time ago, so there must be a better answer.
The ancient (ie old, ie classic) Greeks often said that when you are young you are filled with the juices of life and live by passion and emotions and the body. But when you age you develop wisdom, rationality, and a more spiritual perspective, and you give up the foolishness of youth.
These writers to a man (women never were asked) said that the older vision was the better one. They said this because they were old and writing was all they could do.
Here then a few things this old guy values:
Have a lot of friends. Many will die but a few will stay alive for you.
Stuff you gathered and kept over the years is only stuff. Your heirs will toss it all except bonds, cash, expensive jewelry, and whatever you used for a house and a car.
If you had a pet when you were young, it will die before you so when you get old, get another and outlive it.
You can now ride on a bus for free! Alas, there is nowhere to go where you will find joy except the deli but that closed down years ago.
Remember that old people always talk about how the music was so much better “back in the day,” but if you get a free ticket to hear Taylor Swift in concert, grab it: Al Jolson will not be touring this year.
As we approach another presidential election, you will think that this is the worst of all possible political years. Not so. I just missed getting conscripted for the Civil War.
Climate change: it is real. What to do? Get a walkup for at least the 4th floor, and avoid the lower depths unless you are taking a subway.
Hate and anger will consume you. So discard those feelings and instead feel abused, humiliated, nauseous, and merciless.
Always be grateful: especially if someone gives you a very nice gift. I can’t wait to see what gifts my daughter has given me this year!
Always wear a smile: people will think that you won the lottery, are truly dumb, or hinting a truth from them.
Do not confuse Birthright with Birthmark. One is going there and coming back. The other is forever.
Always be kind to old people. No matter their shortcomings, they usually know lots of lawyers.
Often we believe that what we like others should like as well. This is not always the case. Ask random people: Do you like half sour pickles or full sour ones?Herring with or without cream sauce? It is how I form my opinions of people.
If you prefer pastrami to corned beef, you already have enough wisdom to write letters to the editor of The Forward.
Marriage is not for everyone but it may be for you so know if it is or is not your cup of Lipton tea.
Never neglect to be generous in giving to causes that are important. You could use the name Anon and tell everyone and people will know just generous you are.
If you are solicited at home for a fund, simply say you gave at the office. I will not elaborate on this one at this point.
That Tablet that Moses brought down from the mountain was not a Mac.
Learn a foreign language: the one you had from childhood perhaps has not worked out all that well in your relationships.
It is important to smile and chat with very young children even when they are annoying. Unless their parents do not see you in which case no need for that.
Always carry a fairly large book with you. People will think you are a serious person with good and steady habits. You could hollow out the book and keep your weed inside.
Those then are pretty much the guiding principles I have lived by and look what it has done for me: I went from a cane to a walker and soon a wheelchair. I have listened to my physical therapist who said: just keep moving along.