Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking good notes

With paper and pencil in hand, I remember taking notes in elementary school as my teacher stood behind the chalkboard in front of the classroom instructing us about the subject matter of the moment. I didn’t take as many notes during my middle school and high school years because I was a member of the goof ball club and academics was not a priority.

In college, however, I was a motivated student, thanks to the lessons learned as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Once again, with paper and pencil in hand, I took good notes of everything my college professors pontificated in their lectures. I’ve always been blessed with a good memory and attention to detail so, along with good notes and diligent study, I did well on just about every college exam.

So three decades later, I find myself taking notes again, this time when observing or listening to my elders because there’s much to learn from them. The insight they provide about the life they have lived and the life they want to live is too important to miss.

Notes about their life in the good old days, how they handled difficult situations, their thoughts about living and dying during the golden years of their life, how they exercise, and their approach to fitness and health. What they tell me is as fascinating and instructive as a college philosphy professsor's lecture on ethics over 30 years ago, and as thought-provoking as a sermon on redemptive suffering given by a priest during a recent Sunday Mass.

Talking to my 82-year young Dad two nights ago, I took notes as he told me about the weightlifting workout he did earlier in the day. And like a student, I raised my hand asking him several questions. “How many sets did you do of that exercise Dad? Did you do the bench press before the upright rowing?” I asked while mentally noting his answers.

Yesterday after Sunday Mass I had an opportunity to talk with a 94-year young man as we sat together having a cup of coffee. I’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity to learn from a 94-year young man, so I took many notes during our 30-minutes plus conversation. I walked away well prepared for future exams on life, and with several new jokes and one-liners as well.

At this point in my life, I realize that I know more than I did yesterday but also less than I will tomorrow. There's so much more to know and learn and I’ll do it by taking good notes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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