February 4, 2018, San Jose, Costa Rica
Old Friends....Robert of blessed memory, Moshe, Dwayne...old friends...
Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly?
How Terribly strange to be seventy. (Simon and Garfunkel, 1968)
I was reading the biography of one of our instructors here in Costa Rica. He wrote about his vast training in several martial arts. One day he was attacked, and he discovered the painful truth; none of what he had spent years learning did him any good. He began the painful search for something more realistic and found us, Israeli Krav International.
We do not search until we need. "Time it was and what a time it was, a time of innocence, a time of confidences".
When I first heard the song "Old Friends/Bookend", things were very different. I was young, my older relatives were alive and well, I was training in Kyokushin Karate and was at my physical peak. A young man with a bright future. When I would hear this song, I would think of my dear wonderful aunts, Esther and Sylvia Katz. I thought of them...how terribly strange to be seventy.
Time passes, they have all passed from this world, and suddenly seventy does not seem so far away. When we train in martial arts as young people, we view it one way, and then suddenly...how terribly strange to be getting older. How terribly strange when our perfect young bodies age, how terribly strange when our world changes. Old warriors become old men, black hair turns to gray and white.. Yes, those older years will come, to those who are fortunate. And how terribly strange that those jumping spin kicks are no longer relevant. How terribly strange to face the world as a seventy-year-old. How terribly strange to walk the same streets of California but not longer as a young buck but as an older man. We must prepare, we must understand that someday those Old Folks will be us.
When we are young, we see a "time of of innocence", everything is going our way. I have a photograph, preserve your memories, that's all that's left of you. We need to look at life realistically; save for the future, plan for the future, train for the future, train for how we will be when we are older, for someday those old folks sitting on a park bench like bookends will be you, and me. Silently sharing the same fears. The young man can be wise if he looks to the wisdom and experience of those who preceded him in life. The future always seems so far away, and the present feels like it will never end. A leaf blows through the wind at the park and lands on the toes of the old friends .
Update: November 2018. Old Friends, I think of my old friend, Robert Saray, 37 years of friendship. Every trip to Los Angeles was a time to get together, to hang out as we did in our college days, have some coffee, do some shopping.
But we shall not be doing this anymore, we shall not be sitting as old men on a park bench reminiscing about the past, for he has passed from this world. When I wrote this blog in February 2018, he was battling cancer. He passed in May. Old Friends...silently sharing the same fears...how terribly strange to be again. Old friends, some are among the living and some have passed on. A leaf blows in the wind and lands on my lap, perhaps it is an old friend. I feel your presence.
Update: February 2, 2021, North Hollywood, Ca, USA
Just this past Sunday, here in the Valley, I sat on a park bench, in an area where I used to take walks with Robert. Robert was there, in spirit. I sat with his brother Greg and his children, along with Michal and Esther, and we talked about Robert. So we were sharing a park bench, just as the song says. And yesterday I we visited with his mother, and the friendship continues, more than 40 years and going strong.
So Robert, I came back here to visit you, and I feel that you are here. You have always been here, you were born here, you lived most of your life here, and you passed on here. And you are deeply missed.
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Old friends, among heroes; we age, but that does not mean we lose our ability. We simply adjust and adapt.