A Generative Old Dog Learning New Tricks

I volunteered this morning for the Kenosha Chess Association’s National Chess Day Event.  I started by helping set up boards.


Then I spent most of my time  (nearly an hour and a half) giving a one-on-one beginners lesson to a very elderly gentleman.  Just from I learned and observed about him during our time across the board from each other I came to admire him and consider him a good role model as we continue to age.

  1. First of all, I learned that he volunteers as a tutor for a fifth grader. I admire him for being generative in his old age. (Generative has been defined as the ability to care for another person rather than just yourself.)  Some spend their retirement years lazily or selfishly; that is, doing almost nothing or doing whatever they do solely to please themselves.  This man is giving time and energy for someone else, in this case a previously unknown fifth grader.
  2. Secondly, there was his motive for attending this event.  His assigned fifth grader has been badgering him to play chess but he says he knows nothing about the game.  He saw in the paper that a beginners lesson could be had at the library today.   I admire him for caring enough to go above and beyond the call of duty by  trying to learn chess so he can accommodate his assigned youngster.
  3. Thirdly, I admire him for not believing the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  A lot of people would have sinmply said, “Sorry, kid, I’m too old to take up chess now.”  He was willing to tackle something new; something that can be intimidating.
  4. Fourthly, I admire how seriously he took his task of learning.  He took notes, showed concentration, asked questions, etc.  I’ve had people in the past ask me to teach them something only to have them give up as soon as they realized that it wasn’t gong to take more than just a casual effort.

I hope that when I find myself living out my latter years that I’m the kind of guy that will give of myself, care enough to go above and beyond the call of duty, try new things, and be willing to put in a strong effort.  How about you?