i work with a man named jim.
jim is 74 years old.
i watch him every day, shuffle down the hallway with his cane, head and back hunched over.
jim has parkinson's and recently beat throat cancer.
he recently had part of the bone from his forearm cut out and fused to his jaw to try to revitalize a large portion of his jawbone that his rounds of extensive radiation have killed.
jim is amazing.
we have several things in common, jim and i.
first and foremost is our love of the great state of pennsylvania and the northeast part of our country.
we also love state college, p.a., the home of penn state university and the greatest college football program on the planet.
we could talk about eating grilled stickies and cheesesteaks until the cows came home.
in fact, we could talk about just about anything until the cows came home.
jim is a talker.
he is also a wonderful story-teller.
he has lived a colorful life.
he roamed alaska with real honest-to-goodness indians, won awards from the department of transportation, redesigned military systems all over the world, helped doctorate students understand the right way to fly payloads in space.
i tell him at least once a week that he should write a book.
i would be first in line to buy it.
to say i love this man is an understatement.
i ask jim all the time about his experiences and to tell me more about his past.
"how did you get to do that?!" i ask, in awe. "are you making that up?" teasing him, ever so slightly.
the funny thing, and the part that hits me in the gut, is that he will respond by saying something like (and brace yourself, he likes to cuss), "hell, i got to do all this neat shit because i wasn't afraid of any of it. someone asked me if i wanted to do it, and i wanted to, so i did."
and that's just it: he did all of these amazing things in his life because when presented with a choice, he went for it.
jim is 74 years old.
and i find that i am learning more and more from him every day.
when he shuffles into my office and exclaims, "hey baby!", i smile big and i prepare myself for a story.
i get ready to listen.
i have so much to learn.