Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stages, Pages and Sages

Among the biggest mistakes that a parent can make, at least in their child's eyes, is to suggest to your son a daughter that they play with someone who is of a different age. I know, because I've tried. The response is always the same. “I can't. He/she is in a different grade”. It's said with a look of disbelief as if I've just suggested that they go play on Mars.

The good news is that they grow out of it. Or do they? Many adults I know seem to live in a world where they socialize with those who are most like themselves. Rare is the shul or social gathering where the ages vary by too many years. How can we break free from this limiting perspective? I've found the answer in two pretty different places. Running and daf yomi.

As much as I love running, there are days that it gets pretty hard to drag myself out the door. One of the best ways to overcome that obstacle is to find someone to run with someone else. The conversation that develops is a great way to distract myself from the challenge of running. It's hard to be picky in a situation where most people I know would rather walk than run. Over time, I've found many with whom I can run. While some are within my age range, I've run with people who, if not old enough to be my parents, are certainly old enough to be my older uncle. I've also run with friends who discuss dating and looking for their first job, while I am at a very different stage of my life. Despite our difference in age, I've never failed to have a good time.

As an occasional Daf Yomi maggid shiur, I've benefited in this way as well. As I say over the daf to a small group of older gentleman, I get the additional benefit of moving out of my little world. It might be a stretch to say that we've become friends, but at the very least, I've grown through these interactions. I've gone outside my comfort zone and gained a different perspective. As I learn from Rebbe Akiva and Rav Ashi, I also hear the voices of those still living who have seen more than I have.

There's a comfort in staying within one's little world. There's also a price we pay when we limit ourselves. Let's look for ways to discover the world that's out there.

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