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Senior Moments – for week of September 12

Spencer3-300x200Shrewsbury, Massachusetts – Some moralist with probably nothing better to do with his or her time sat down one day and inventoried the deadly sins of humankind. Whether the person compiled the list alone or in conjunction with others, everyone seems to agree that there are seven in number; pride, anger, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and sloth.

Of course not all of them are of equal severity but the devil’s favorite is pride since it’s the easiest with which to ensnare the unwary due to its subtlety, and the most difficult to break out of once caught in its web. Just let the most hard-hearted person hear that they’re good looking or intelligent or fun to be with and they’ll turn to mush, and if they won’t fall for those deceptions tell them how much you admire their resistance to flattery… dead meat no matter how resolute they appear.

Now I’m no sage (though I’ve been called that on occasion much to my delight), but with the experience I’ve accumulated over the years it seems there is at least one evil missing from the list, that being the sin of impatience.

There are some people who have the ability to just go with the flow, easy going folks who I tremendously admire for their calm demeanor and grace under pressure. Unfortunately I’m not one of them no matter how much I try, and I appear to have the uncanny knack of gravitating toward people who are almost as uptight as me, including a wife who is no saint either when it comes to setting expectations for the performance of others.

Perhaps it’s our New York upbringing where everything was at a breakneck speed, whether riding the subways, rushing to and from lunch, meeting work deadlines with no room for error, and a myriad of service providers who deftly handled the constant flow of traffic in and out of their shops. That’s just the way it was, for if you couldn’t cut it you were quickly out of business.

Regardless of the reasons, patience is just not one of my virtues nor that of my acquaintances as too many incidents over time have demonstrated. One that immediately comes to mind is when one of my co-workers (another ex-New Yorker) took up the hobby of building and flying radio-controlled airplanes. Rather than asking more experienced hobbyists for their advice on the pitfalls to avoid, he naturally bought a beautiful and expensive model kit and spent several months during the winter in its construction.

When spring finally arrived he proudly took his masterpiece to the field where the club flew, and when it came his turn to perform (only one can go up at a time), he rashly put his plane in position, spun the propeller and turned on the controls. The model taxied along while gaining speed, but when it didn’t become airborne as expected he impetuously pulled the control lever rather than stopping the thing to see what was the matter. The plane leapt into the air, banked, and promptly crashed into pieces on the asphalt runway destroying months of work along with a very expensive kit. Had he not been so anxious he’d have been told to initially buy and build a cheap model and then let one of the more proficient guys take the thing off until he had gained some skill. A very costly lesson indeed.

Now that I’m retired and having all the time in the world though no less impatient, I decided to build an airplane of my own over the summer, not from an expensive kit and not radio-controlled but rather a glider whose plans I found on the Internet. It still cost a month of my time along with the wood and sundry items for its construction, so when it was finished and remembering my friend’s disaster you’d think I would have waited for its maiden flight to take place in a big, expansive, grassy field since it had a six foot wingspan. But noooooo!

Itching to try it out I took the plane into my back yard, stood at one end of a hundred foot clear area and gently tossed it to see if it would glide, stall, or nose dive. Good grief, the thing sailed like a bird going much further than expected, smashing into a post and cracking its wing. The only good thing to come out of the incident was that at least I couldn’t be trapped by pride since I had none left.



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