an unexpected version of love and death

Yesterday, due to the heavy downpours, we needed to find a good indoor activity to do with one 90 year-old, one 5 3/4 year old, and a few of us in between. We decided also to try to accentuate the “active” in the activity, and we came up with bowling. I cannot remember the last time I went bowling, and, in particular, to the alley we used to take our kids when they were little.

I had checked the website to make sure they would be open, but when we got there, I had to check the door to make sure they actually were, since no one was on the street.

Not much had changed since I was last there. Okay, they have computerized screens, but they’re probably at least 15 years old.

And, surprisingly, they have Wi-Fi.

But why would you want to use it? We were there to bowl. We split the group up with the three boys on one lane, and the three girls on the other. The boys got the bumpers up.

I don’t remember that feature at all, and I could have used it. No worries, I was there to have fun.

My father, the highest scorer, was unhappy that he used that lane. I asked him if he wanted to take out his hearing aid.

“What?”, he joked.

“Use what you can to make life better.”

We were not alone in the alley, even though it was pretty sparse. There had been a few senior seniors when we first arrived. The man behind the counter said the one with the white hair (!) was 98. My father agreed to bowl when he heard that. There was one single man who came in and bowled next to us. He wasn’t that good, but it looked like he took it seriously.

Then, there was one woman who brought her two little boys. They were watching her play very contentedly. I didn’t watch how she did.

I don’t know if my father or the others in our group noticed the groups that were on the end on the alley. Four lanes were being used by groups of mentally-challenged adults. I actually didn’t pay attention to how well they were bowling, but how much they seemed to enjoy themselves there.

The serious lesson of the day was not wasted on me.

The next lesson was not as clear. And this is actually where the movie reference of my title comes in. Of course, I am referring to Woody Allen’s movie and the dialogue about Don Francisco’s sister. Gosh. I wrote about it already 5 1/2 years ago here.

When we were finished our two games, my father went up to pay for our fun. He, of course, pulled out his credit card, even thought there were a few signs posted “Cash or checks only”.

Certainly another throwback to simpler times.

The woman, who seemed to be the one in charge, having been the one to set up our bumper guards earlier, plus chase down the errant balls of our 5 3/4 year old big boy that did not have enough steam to make it down the whole alley, started tallying up the costs. “Four senior games”…


“Two for you and your wife.”

“Um…I’m his DAUGHTER, not his wife!!!”

“Oh, sorry. Okay, two senior games…”

“Wait–how old for a senior?”


“Okay, FOUR senior games.”

“Okay, four senior and six regular. Wait. [To my daughter:] How old are YOU?”

“Old enough to be their mother!”

Yes, she thought that my daughter was the sister of her three kids…

I’m my own grandpa, perhaps?

If I can get past my ego, I should be able to laugh about it, right? Oh, certainly I did laugh there, but we women are trained in the art of age avoidance. Or, clearly I should say, the game.

Or did she think that I was young enough to have a 5 3/4 year old?

Better to use it as a lesson in humility.

After all, we read Kohelet this Shabbat, so ’tis the season to remember:

ב  הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת, הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל. 2 Vanity of vanities, saith Koheleth; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

Which fits in very nicely with an article I just read, The Surprising Benefits of a Quiet Ego.

The researchers found that those with a quiet ego reported being more interested in personal growth and balance and tended to seek growth through competence, autonomy, and positive social relationships. While a quiet ego was positively related to having a higher self-esteem, it was also related to various indicators of self-transcendence, including prosocial attitudes and behaviors.

This is consistent with the idea that a quiet ego balances compassion with self-protection and growth goals. Indeed, a quiet ego is an indication of a healthy self-esteem—one that acknowledges one’s own limitations, doesn’t need to constantly resort to defensiveness whenever the ego is threatened, and yet has a firm sense of self-worth and value.

They also found that a quiet ego was associated with self-compassion, humility, authenticity, spiritual growth, flexible thinking, open-minded thinking, the ability to savor everyday experiences, life satisfaction, resilience, risk-taking, and the feeling that life is meaningful. If we take a multidimensional conceptualization of well-being (which I do), we see that a quiet ego is more conducive to living a full life.

So yes, let’s go with that. And probably, the two lessons are simply one.

יג  סוֹף דָּבָר, הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע:  אֶת-הָ  יְרָא וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר, כִּי-זֶה כָּל-הָאָדָם. 13 The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man.



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