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The day I became a geezer

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“Lance history project old person something from the distant past.”

The Snow Goose

Unlike many geezers today, I can pinpoint the exact moment that I realised I was over the hill, and ready to be kicked to the kerb.

In my case, I officially became a relic on Saturday afternoon, February 2 2019 (yes, this year) at 6.07pm.

A friend – who I now consider a former friend – contacted me on behalf of her young daughter. “Hey Lance, she wrote in a WhatsApp message, “my daughter (I am withholding the daughter’s real name) needs your help.”

Always eager to help out a friend, I continued reading and my head imploded.

“She has a history project. She has to interview an older person, and ask them about their life story; she needs to know about interesting incidents from the past ”

I thought: “And uncle Lance came to mind?”

I read the message again and thoughts formed in my head: “Lance history project old person something from the distant past.”

In case you’re wondering, I did help out my “former friend”. Afterwards I thought to myself that I should have written about the first time I was chased by a pterodactyl, so that her daughter could flunk her history assignment.

Surely I am not THAT old! I mean, I still remember quite vividly the days before I figured out that a specific shoe belonged to a specific foot. When I was in kindergarten I would be headed out of the door to school and someone would have to tell me that my shoes were on the wrong feet.

Physical education was another minefield. We’d have to remove our shoes and slip into our sneakers, which I often got wrong – with my left sneaker on my right foot and my right sneaker on the left, I always looked as if I was running away from myself.

Then after “PT”, it was back into the school shoes again, and it was always a lottery whether I’d get it right. I am surprised that I got an education in kindergarten because I spent those years trying to figure out which shoe goes where. It got so bad that I would wonder if socks had a specific foot. It caused me endless torment.

One of my nephews had a similar problem, but he shut down his critics the first time they told him that his shoes were on the wrong feet, he couldn’t have been older than five at the time.

“Hey,” he said indignantly, “these ARE my feet!”

I giggle to myself every time I think of that story, but there is actually a pretty profound lesson in there if you think about it.

Here was a young person still trying to figure out the difference between left and right, and the fact that there was a right shoe for the right foot and a left shoe for the other. And all he knew at the time was that shoes had one basic purpose if he wore his shoes, he could go outside and run and play to his heart’s content. So no matter which foot he had those shoes on, he was using it to achieve his ultimate goal – freedom!

To him it didn’t matter how he wore his shoes, all he knew was that while he had them on he could be outside with his friends.

I recently read something that leadership guru John C Maxwell wrote. In a nutshell he points out that, according to sociologists, even the most isolated individual will influence 10 000 other people during his or her lifetime.

A short time later I read a quote by Rick Warren: “Criticism is the cost of influence. As long as you don’t influence anybody, nobody is going to say a peep about you. But the greater your influence the more critics you are going to have.”

So maybe I should not be offended that the young rascal thought of me when she needed an interesting old goat for her history lesson; maybe I should be honoured that I could be an influence on her and her classmates, and not take her gesture as criticism.

I still hate her though.