In life there are certain things you can acquire with money. You can buy a house, a car, even a woman (well, kind of.) However, the one thing that money can't buy is wisdom. Wisdom is only acquired when a person's intellect is thoroughly seasoned with decades upon decades of experiencing life's ups and downs. I can't speak for women, but old men tend enjoy sharing their wisdom with others.
Over the course of this weekend, I was exposed to some "old man wisdom" that not only can be appreciated by all, but life lessons can be learned in the process as well.
John Chaney at the NABJ STF Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards - This weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Philadelphia and one of the marquee events were the Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards, hosted by the NABJ Sports Task Force. The awards are given to prominent sports figures from the host city that left their mark on their game. From Joe Frazier to Sonny Hill to Donald Hunt, the old man spiritual was being delivered and notes were most definitely being taken. Even though "Smokin' Joe" was sitting right there, I was more enamored with Chaney. I grew up with the old man, and I watched how he dealt with players, other coaches, (I'LL KILL YA!), and with social issues during the day. He said that the younger generations have no idea how "we" came up back then, and how lucky "we" are now. There was real pain in his voice, and given the chance to reminisce in front of all of us, he beamed with pride talking about his team's past glory from Bethune-Cookman to Cheyney State onto Temple. I had the chance to shake the man's hand and tell him, "Thank you," and really that's all I needed, because his gospel has resonated with me for 20 years. I was just glad to be in the congregation.
Marshall Faulk at the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction - Hey, man; you had a great career and everything but...you went 33 minutes and 40 seconds on your speech. You got to wrap it up, b.
Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders at the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction - I'm not going to slander Marshall Faulk for that egregiously long and tired-ass speech (maybe I just did), but the two most moving speeches from the Hall of Fame induction belonged Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders. Their speeches were both one part hilarious and one part emotional, and I found that their bonds with their maternal figures was what drove them to be not that different than anything that I do.
Man, I live to make my mother and grandmother proud. Their satisfaction in the little piddly things I do makes my day better, and those speeches made me call my mama just to tell her I love her. Ain't nothing better in this world than that.
This is what old men are good at. They impart wisdom in your life. Yes, they may be long-winded. Yes, they may get off-subject, and yes, they might ask you to get them some cigarettes or a glass of water in the process, but at the end of the day, you should always take something away from those conversations. It's the reason I cried so much when my grandfather passed away, because I was finally ready to have those conversations with him, and before I knew it, he was gone. Life's funny like that. Those old stories he used to tell me as a kid are still with me, even though I could care less as a kid picking my nose and watching X-Men cartoons. It was like osmosis with the things he said. They stuck with me. As I got to college, his lessons began to resonate, and I was more willing to spend an hour or three just chopping it up with him about sports, family, women, or anything else. I miss you Grandpop, and I shook John Chaney's hand just for you.