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                  1917 to Forever

Ah, for that time when people sought their elders, not because they ran fast or thought fast but because they were contemplative, thoughtful and steeped in a long life of experiences that nurtured a thing called wisdom.

Lots of older people have it. You likely have some in your neighborhood. I remember one living next door named Jack. He had led a Forest Gump life, only with a brain. Starting with nothing, as a kid he shagged balls for Babe Ruth and Lou Gerig.  Then later when hitchhiking to Washington DC, he got picked up by Eleanor Roosevelt. Working his butt off, he got degrees from two universities, practiced law, served in the Maryland state legislature, and eventually became Dean of George Washington University School of Law.  That was just after his Marine days were over, where there was nowhere to sit but on the dead body of Japanese he had killed. Then a guy named Earl Warren asked him to come straighten out the administrative mess at the Supreme Court as the Clerk, where a painting of him still stands in thanks.

After that he became president of two universities, while also serving as chairman of the boards of three of the world’s largest corporations.

One day, after one of my program directors took a swing at me because he had been fired, I retaliated with a left directly on the nose. 

An hour later, I saw Jack working on the pool pump behind his house. Very upset, with my heart still pounding, I walked over to Jack for some wisdom.  “Jack” I said, “You have been so successful in life, how did you handle it when you had to fight?” 

He thought for a moment, then looked a bit confused and said, “I don’t think I ever fought with anyone.”

Richard Kimball

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Published inETHICSgrowing up