“All things must pass. None of life’s strings can last. So I must be on my way, and face another day…” – George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass” (1970 Apple Records)
Old Joe was given to me in 1985. He was my first non-speaking workout buddy. He was also a terrible sparring partner. I should’ve known from hearing the words of the great Bruce Lee. Famously, the master himself said, “Bags don’t punch back.” I will take issue with Mr. Lee in one area. A 70 pounder will indeed obey the laws of physics as inertia has its way, swinging back to your body. 70 pounds of dead weight will eat your lunch.
I had been a martial artist since 1973 and was trained in boxing, albeit ever so lightly, by an uncle as a kid. When I finally dove headlong into training in Tae-Kwon-Do and kickboxing, the following year, I was immediately enamored by the pro fighter’s work on the heavy bag in the corner of the heat balm scented dojo. The sheer thrust of a step-sidekick firmly planted in the middle of the bag (with an impact of maybe 50mph or so) can fold the swinging bag into an “>-shaped” lump of canvas, cotton and sand. Imagine what that can do to a human attacker taking two steps toward that flying foot targeting the ribs or chest. You get the picture. You should hear the tremendous sound it makes.
I had lived in an apartment during my teen years never having the opportunity to own a heavy bag myself. Later, adulthood landed me in a house with a nice garage for such a purpose. If memory serves me right, it was a birthday gift. I wasted zero time in hanging it from the rafters, via a thick chain. I dubbed him, “Old Joe”. Old Joe made me feel pretty old after a few years. We both aged. The only difference was, he never gained weight. (How does that happen?)
Old Joe watched from the garage as three baby girls were added to our routine. Old Joe was especially present when I had gone through a rough day on the job, or when the lawn mower broke-down, or when a lay-off entered my day. Yep, he was very understanding as I beat the dummy right out of him. He had no face, no snide comments or selective profanity to fling my way. Old Joe was guilty of one infraction during those sweaty sessions. He always taunted me as I punched and kicked through my pains and sorrows with the uppercase inked word, “EVERLAST”. Somehow frustratingly reminding me I can endure even when beaten down. Other than that word, often sarcastically jabbing me in my weakest emotional days, he was always there, just quietly hanging around.
One day, Old Joe was awarded with some fresh air. (He began to stink. Honest admission.) We had moved to another part of town into a bigger house as my second daughter, Megan was born in December of ’89. The backyard patio was larger than what I had before, with a nice portico laced with heavily beamed rafters above. I grew older and more out of shape, no longer training regularly in the martial arts, while Old Joe began to show his age too. Yes, I became a bag abuser. Over the years of slackness the weather slammed Old Joe around. I covered him a few times with Scotchgard rain repellent and then I got lazy. Afterwards, the expanding years brought a new member to the family. Wolfgang, our salt-n-pepper Great Dane was adopted into our home, all 134 pounds of him. You could label him, Puppus-Maximus-Rex. One of his many adventures was taking a large frozen beef roast off the kitchen counter consuming not only the hunk of bovine, but the plastic and Styrofoam wrapping to boot. I swear, I saw him smile that day. He, too, wanted to workout from time to time, often while I was at work. To spare you the gruesome details, just know Old Joe took the canine brunt. After taping up Old Joe with silver duct tape, I got a second wind, ushering a workout schedule that only pro athletes could understand. We were pals once again.
George Harrison was right, all things must pass away and so did Old Joe. He had hung around for 16 years only to be introduced to the middle school years of my daughters, Tabitha and Megan. On one of their free afternoons they invited some neighborhood kids over. One of the boys thought it cool to take a broomstick and flog the old weathered canvas bag, resembling a Roman soldier on a penal colony. You guessed it, the stuffings began to pour out as the canvas suffered an irreversible split. No more surgeries for Old Joe. (Let’s bow for a moment of silence here.) After the memorial service, off to the curb he went.
“EVERLAST”? Really? Obviously the company lied to us, ya know. Old Joe, according to the manufacturer’s name, should still be with me. Right? Maybe they will take a customer’s suggestion. How about renaming the trademark, “Somewhat Last”? That also goes for the Eveready battery. When your flashlight is needed and it won’t turn on, remember that.
The universe is not improving. It rolls in the laws of deterioration. I’ll go further than that, because if you have read my posts you know a speak frankly. Even our humanity is ebbing away. You feel it don’t you? The cosmos is wearing out like Old Joe. Ancient scrolls written thousands of years ago on parchment and skins concerning the earth and the cosmos will wear out like an old garment. (Isaiah 51:6) Yet, in the same passage, “…BUT my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.” (Google it. I’ll wait here for ya.) Literally, outlasting all else including the ground under our feet.
EVERLAST is a super-great company serving countless generations of athletes worldwide with high quality products with long shelf-lives. The founders seemed to understand the meaning of that special title. After all, they took it from scripture.
“Everlasting” is a treasured word of mine. Biblically speaking, it’s one of God’s favorites, a queen among words. Everlasting covenant, everlasting arms, everlasting kindness, everlasting love and everlasting life, among many other phrases. If you do a Hebrew or Greek word study from the original texts, you will find it to enrich the thoughts, the very comprehension of, “Age-long”, “Of old”, “Age-less”, “Ancient Of Days”, “Immortal”, “Eternal”, “Without end or beginning”, “Unmovable duration”, “Perpetual”. The title God Himself used early-on for the pure absence of true human linguistic definition, “I AM”, is linked to the endless view of “Everlasting”. In the tiny, minuscule box of our understanding of existence, “I AM” lends itself to the limited picturesque vision of, “(Before all), I AM”. Take it upon yourself to count the grains of sands on the beach, the particles of lunar dust on the moon or the stars NASA continues to discover. It’s just a hint of forever.
“Alan, what does this have to do with an old canvas bag?”, you might say. So glad you asked. Unlike Old Joe’s taunts with the word, “EVERLAST” as I wore myself out, “EVERLASTING” is really an invitation to a redemption. Old Joe, old houses, old cars fall apart. Your aging body is too. Notice? Yet, there is an eternal, an everlasting spirit/soul (Often the words are interchangeable) within you that is pleasantly spoken of at funerals. By nature, it is currently unseen. It is that triune part of you that is meant for a relationship, a warm cozy love with the unseen Everlasting One. Because of His everlasting love, kindness and covenant offered, He spoke it directly, often spotted in NFL games. As your body wears out and is placed at the proverbial curb, YOU, and who YOU are, will continue. Some of us refuse to believe that we do go on, yet reality takes over after the brain no longer makes faith choices. When it (spirit/soul) separates from the body, the “house you currently live in” shuts down. You will have nothing, zero, zilch to do with it. Think of it as part of your spiritual autonomic system, like when your thyroid regulates without your cognitive initiatives. I’m grateful I KNOW the Collector Of Souls. The Everlasting One, the One who titles Himself as the “A to Z”, “the One who is, who was, and who is to come”, also spoke the “Everlasting” below that perpetually pumps fuel for the race.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should NOT perish, BUT have EVERLASTING life.” – Jesus, John 3:16 (American King James Version)