Thursday, April 21, 2011

Living Well Through Learning Well

The sawdust puffed from the back and forth of the hand saw on the board wood. My grandfather huffed with each smooth stroke as my 3-year old watched intently. My wife's vision for window seats around our dining room table were coming to fruition, carefully constructed by the years of experience that my grandfather offered to the project. The 3-year old worked quietly alongside, mirroring the tasks, wondering why his plastic tools didn't produce the same results as the heavy steel tools used by his great-grand-dad. I stood by, foreman (runner) of the project, appreciating the multi-generational teaching - the giving and receiving.

Recently, I was getting in an early afternoon workout at the Y. I took my seat on a rowing machine, planning to do a 5-minute cool down. Within a moment, a friend from church, retired dentist, sat next to me. Dentist pays close attention to his physical and mental health, visiting the Y often to exercise both. He began to row next to me, effortlessly. He is a storyteller. Not one that you hope quickly finds the ending of their recount, but one who you're intrigued to ask questions, to ask for another story, to ask for more. We talked of Japan's crisis, of World Wars, and of the world's wars. Stories of horses bought and sold, of weather on the west coast, and of parenting lessons. He's smart, reflective, well seasoned for this season of life. The timer on my rowing machine read 30 minutes, but I didn't care. I rowed on. And listened.

I'm appreciative that the Sentinel runs this blog as a monthly article. I've enjoyed many comments and conversations in the moving of the words from virtual to print. I even received a hand-written note from a former high school teacher, saying that the articles are appreciated and that she uses them in her class to provoke discussion. In her humility, there wasn't mention of the articles being fruits of her (and so many other teachers and mentors) seeding. Gardens of education grown up. Lessons of life being passed on, cultivated, nourished.

A recent headline read, Exercising gets more important with age (Lloyd, Janice, USA Today). The article talked of the importance of continued physical activity as people age for improved physical health and longevity. Conversely, I'd offer another thought headline, The aged are important for our exercise. There is a component of wellness that is found in the circle of giving back, those with more wisdom and experience and life pouring back into those of us with so much left to learn. The rowing helps my heart beat stronger, the conversation with someone whose walked more life than I helps my mind grow deeper.

Health and wellness is found in not only the physical, but the emotional, social, and spiritual. The next time you invest in exercise, carve out time to step beyond a solitary regiment of activity. Consider adding to your workout the opportunity to seek out and listen to the aged, the seasoned, the experienced. Proverbs 2:2-3 reads, "Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and ask for understanding."

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I am not home improvement guy. My construction of the widow seats would have consisted of calling for price quotes. But, on this day, I was glad that I'm not skilled in carpentry. I learned more from watching and the lessons had nothing to do with woodworking.