No. 560



We have all heard the saying, "It's better to wear out, than to rust out." For the most part this saying applies to anything that is made from metal with moving parts, but it also applies to people. As you probably know, any of us, young or old, can get rusty if we don't practice or use the skills that we have honed over the years. Personally, I experience this each year in my golf game. After the winter layoff, when the sap starts rising and I go out to the course in the spring, I am terribly rusty and lose a good number of balls in the water or the woods.
It is right here that I want to make a distinction between the person whose performance suffers because of a prolonged layoff, and the one who simply quits doing the things they used to do and allows the forces of gravity and nature to take over. When we lose our enthusiasm and zest for living is when this process usually begins. While this happens to millions of people in our prosperous nation, believe me it does not have to happen. I'm 68 years of age and feel like I am just now getting started.
Please allow me to tell you a true story about a man named Fred, who is well past 80, that may light your fuse, that is, if you feel like you are rusting out and just waiting on the undertaker. A few months ago I got a letter from Fred, who wanted some advice. It seems he had moved here from another state and when he left his previous residence, because of several factors, he left some of his most prized possessions with another man he thought was a friend. He has known this man for 25 years and thought he could be trusted.
To make a long story short, when it came time for Fred to get his valued possessions back, his former friend would not let him have them. My advice didn't help. This man still has them to this day. In our correspondence, I sent Fred some information about our bookcase literacy project. A few months later he wrote me back and what he told me was thrilling. He has been involved with a local literacy council and was asked to meet once a week after school with two high school freshmen students that needed some help improving their grades.
One student was facing the prospect of having to attend summer school. After meeting with both of them individually they began to realize that it was important to apply their intellectual abilities in a more serious manner and think along the lines of where they would be in three more years and beyond. What they were learning now had to be applied to how they were going to make a living in whatever career they may choose.
Fred goes on to say, "The results were productive and gratifying. The first student's grades improved to where it would not be necessary for him to attend summer school. Since he was planning to work in construction this summer, I bought him a construction worker's pouch and belt, and since he liked to work on cars, I also bought him a shop apron. He also received a baseball cap that was donated by a local sports store.
"The other student also improved his grade standing. Since he has a special interest in baseball and did research on Babe Ruth, I gave him a book on the New York Yankees, a box containing a dozen regulation big league hard balls and a donated baseball cap. This student plans to work as an 'ump' at Little League and at a turkey farm during the summer. I also had each of them sign a short pledge that they would promise to continue their efforts and do their very best in all things, especially their school work."
Fred sent me a copy of the pledge that was signed by each individual student. Here is the point: this 80-year-old man is certainly not "rusting" out but rather he is wearing out doing something that will have a lasting impact on these two young boys, and no doubt for their children and grandchildren, as well. Thanks, Fred, for the sterling example.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")