Not much good it did me, however. Not that I can see. If it had, how many problems and mistakes could I have prevented if I had only listened to — and followed — some of this sage advice along the way?
Can’t you say the same?
I’m guessing so, sooooo I collected a number I thought were particularly potent and apropos for today’s column.
With students graduating across the world and seeing and hearing parts of several commencement speakers’ speeches, I got to thinkin’ I felt a little left out.
I particularly liked the fella who told his group of graduating seniors this year that they weren’t special, they weren’t extraordinary. I’m not completely sure why I liked his speech and his blunt words. I hope it wasn’t just plain meanness. I hope it was that this dose of reality would have helped me navigate the future storms in my life — and, trust me, we all had future storms waiting for us all as we sat in those uncomfortable chairs filled with anticipation and hope and dreams of grandeur. We just didn’t know they were coming based on the hopeful commencement speeches and congratulations we probably all heard that fateful day.
This honest, maybe too honest, fella was Wellesley (Mass.) High English teacher David McCullough Jr. who raised a ruckus this year when he told graduates, “You are not special. You are not exceptional," quoting the following empirical evidence: “Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians ... 37,000 class presidents ... 92,000 harmonizing altos ... 340,000 swaggering jocks ... 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs,” he said in the speech published in the Boston Herald.
Then he also added, “Even if you’re 1 in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion, that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”
Sobering yet absolutely truthful.
So, I tried to find other sage pieces of advice and/or comments about life. I also felt the need for some words of wisdom or commentaries on how to live my life right about now as well — the reasons being part of another story.
Also, I felt a little left out and that I shouldn’t be limited to getting words of wisdom just once in my lifetime — at a graduation — although that doesn’t include all the words lots of others have decided they felt I needed to hear. Again, that’s part of another story.
But you understand what I mean, don’t you?
Anyhow, during my research I found many examples of words of wisdom. Here are a few of my favorites, with their authors, when I can.
- “Promises mean everything, but after they are broken, sorry means nothing.” — Author Unknown
- “The longer the explanation, the bigger the lie.” — Chinese Proverb
- “God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t. That should tell us something.” — Author Unknown
- “The truth is hard to swallow when you’re choking on your pride.” — Author Unknown
- “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
- “No need for revenge. Just sit back and wait. Those that hurt you will eventually screw up all by themselves ... and, if you are lucky, God will let you watch.” — Author Unknown
- “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and, at times, hard to control, but if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” — Marilyn Monroe
- “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” — Author Unknown
- “Don't think outside the box. Think like there is no box.” — Author Unknown
- “I’m very hard to understand but extremely easy to please.” — Nathan Gilkarov
- “It is impossible to defeat an ignorant person in an argument.” — William G. McAdoo
- “The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” — John E. Southard
- "I don’t know, go ask a woman." — A Very Wise Man
- “A Woman’s Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for wisdom to understand a man. Love to forgive him. And patience for his moods. Because Lord, if I pray for strength, I’ll just beat him to death.” — Author Unknown (But Obviously A Very Frustrated Woman)
And, to give equal time to both sides ...
- “There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.” — Another, Not-So-Wise Man
- “Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.” — Author Unknown
And, no matter how long you live, “Life is still way too short, so live it to the fullest.” — Ernest Hemingway (who certainly seemed to live by these words, if his reputation is to be believed).
And last, but not least. Actually, I am going to stop a minute here and let you know this was actually the first “Wise” saying I put down in this story to use as part of my column — not the last. It also got a lot of agreement and head nodding when others heard it. Here it is:
“Of all parts of wisdom, the practice is the best.” — John Tillotson
If we all tried to live our lives by this last one, we’d probably all be OK.