If you knew my father (OB"M) later on in his life, it is hard to imagine that he ever enjoyed being a lawyer. I remember him walking through the door each night exhausted, not so much physically, as much as emotionally. I could see it in his face. It was clear to me, even as a child, that being a lawyer took a lot out of him. Those who knew him early on in his career say that he was different back then. He started out believing that he could use law as a force for good. Additionally, he loved mentoring younger lawyers. He remembered what it was like for him starting out, and he tried to always be there for the new guy (back then, it was almost always men).
When I first started out teaching, I liked to think of myself as the cool young teacher. The rabbi who got it; who remembered what it was like to be a teenager. I prided myself on being there for my students in a way that my teachers and rabbis were never there for me. Last week it hit me, that as I approach my 40th birthday, I am the age of many of student's parents. I don't where the time went, but along with my hair, it has disappeared. It is a sobering thought. I found myself wondering whether I had become "that guy". You know the one, the guy in the Breakfast Club who supervises detention. That day, I was reminded that I still have the ability to connect. A student, one who I must admit I am very fond of, told me that I was one of the only teachers who really cares about the kids. I hope he was wrong about the other teachers (and not about me!). Still, just the fact that he felt that way, meant a world of difference. Later, as I managed to teach a difficult Talmudic section with warmth and humor, I found myself thinking that maybe I still have something to offer. Of course, I also found myself thinking of my dad.
I am still coming off of the high of running the Miami Half Marathon. I have already written about the enjoyment I received due to running the race with my wife, brother and nephew. There was another part that really added to the experience. Many of the the runners on Team Lifeline, were not my age. Some were older, a few considerably older, but most were much younger; college age or thereabout. Realizing the joy and benefits that I have gotten out of running, I tried as best as I could to meet as many teammates as possible, and offer them my friendship and "expert", veteran advice. I talked them about pre-race jitters and about running through "the wall". It was far from a one sided relationship. I ended making some new friends, and even received a new nickname- "The Pace Maker". Of course, I found myself wondering whether that was a play on my name, or an indication of my old age, but I digress.
For hundreds of years, people have searched for the legendary fountain of youth. Through running and teaching, I think I have found it, along with another connection with my dad.
PLEASE donate in my mom’s memory to help children with cancer: