My father is 78 years old today. He's a Leo, which means that everyone in the world should know, even if he doesn't get around to telling them, that it is indeed his birthday. He's never had a Facebook account, a blog, a Twitter handle, or an email address. He exists on the computer for one reason only: to more easily facilitate his habit of betting on horses. He has learned where to click, what to type, when and how, in order to analyze speed ratings, jockey statistics, and track conditions. Don't ask him where your letter is on the desktop. You should have saved it.
Every once in a while, we'll get on him for being a stick in the mud, for not adapting to newer technologies. We'll think, though we'll never say, that his one and only connection to the computer is a bit of comedy. That it's funny how the computer only mystifies him when it has nothing to do with horses.
And then I'll remind myself that he does stand at rapt attention whenever I get on YouTube and find some black and white clip of Beny More, or an audio file of Vicentico Valdes or Sonora Matancera. When the machine at his desk is able to bring back some music he had forgotten, or an image he loves, sound and pictures that conjure and summon and remember, the machine is useful. On those occasions when he is able to get to a real life racetrack, he will always take the time to get outside and admire the animals up close, not because they win him money (they rarely do), but because they are beautiful, and intelligent, and powerful.
Pop remains as curious as any teenager I know. He is unafraid to ask things, even as he believes he's seen everything. Knowledge serves him, and he serves knowledge. Technology is only part of that so long as service is part of the equation. I'm going to remember this lesson today, as I consider the essay I'm in the midst of writing, and as I consider the fact that at age 78, my father is still learning, and remembering, and marveling.