Today is my birthday, and I’ve been thinking about the kind of old guy I want to become, because it’s happening faster than I would have imagined twenty years ago! In chronological order, here are some cool old guys from whom I could stand to learn a thing or two:
1. Yoda. He’s short. He’s not that handsome. But he’s got that whole “power of the force” thing going, and could kick some serious heinie in his (relatively) younger days. Plus, I think I edited something he wrote once.
2. Melchizedek. According to rabbinic tradition, he is the patriarch Shem under an assumed name. In any case, he is the ultimate mysterious stranger, “without father or mother or genealogy, without beginning of life or end of days,” who arrives out of nowhere to bless Abram and show him hospitality.
3. Nicholas of Myra. Lover of children, giver of gifts, exiled and imprisoned for his faith. He once even punched out an Arian heretic. According to some, he spends his retirement years distributing toys to good little girls and boys.
4. Atticus Finch. Loving father, brilliant lawyer, champion of justice.
5. Sherman Tecumseh Potter. Ex-cavalryman and exemplary army surgeon. Beloved father-figure to everyone under his command.
6. Emmett Lathrop “Doc” Brown. Inspired though eccentric scientist and inventor. If you’re going to build a time machine, why not put it in a Delorean? He realized his dream of living in the Old West, where men were men and women looked like Mary Steenburgen.
7-8. Arva S. Pursiful Jr. and Darrell T. Pursiful. What can I say? My father is and my paternal grandfather was a cool old guy. Devoted husbands, fathers, and grandfathers; among the top in their chosen professions; able to know when to be serious and when to joke around. They’ve given me some mighty big shoes to fill.
9. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Flawed yet honorable. He never stopped learning. He never stopped risking something big for something good.
10. Johnny Cash. An almost perfect synthesis of Saturday night and Sunday morning.
11. Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Just because I wish I could pull off that head slap thing he does and/or magically appear behind someone who’s talking about me.