TRUE STORIES: What’s that you say?

J.T. Knoll
J.T. Knoll

I’m a sucker for pithy statements, as essayist and radio personality Garrison Keillor obviously knows; he sent me a bunch of maxims last week. As I believe most of my readers are of the same ilk, I’m going to share a few.

“A lazy man never has time to go fishing.” Good one. Folk wisdom. Goes well with “If you’re too busy to go fishing … you’re too busy.”

“Work in the heat or starve in the cold.” As the heat index topped 100 degrees this week, I began to think of working construction and the hay fields for college tuition back in the '60s. $180 a semester.

“Nobody is born smart.” This one speaks why some people never seem to ‘get it.’ And if you don’t know what I mean by ‘get it’ … you don’t get it.

“The way to get something done is to do it.” This is true for the most part … but I would ad ‘at a leisurely pace’ on the end.

“Listen too hard and you'll always hear something bad about yourself.” This is a good reason to stay away from social media.

“Never mind what people say; the important thing is who shows up.” This one goes right alongside, “Talk’s cheap.”

“It was never a bad day that had a good evening.” Remarkable, isn’t it, how a day can go from unforgiving to blessed in a matter of hours.

“None so blind as those who refuse to see.” This brings to mind my puzzlement about the people who are refusing the Covid vaccine. My friend Peter refers to this as ignorantia affectata – Italian for ‘willful ignorance.’

“An open door could tempt a saint.” This reminds me of Flip Wilson in drag as Geraldine, “The devil made me buy this dress, Rev. I saw it in the clothing store window and the devil said, ‘Come on in here, Geraldine, and try on this dress!’”

“One example doesn't make a rule.” Politicians are really good at violating this one, especially when cornered.

Here’s a couple for the January 6th insurrection deniers: “Liars deceive themselves.” and “A single fact is worth a truckload of opinion.”

“Learning makes a man fit company for himself.” This speaks to the beauty and humility of learning for its own sake … rather than to show off in front of others.

“One face to God and one to the devil.” I used to believe I needed to get rid of the devil. No more. Now I endeavor to face and stand up to him.

“Don't cut the branch you're standing on.” This one speaks not only to literal behavior, but also to using patience and discernment rather than falling prey to impulsivity and black and white thinking.

“There is a great deal of human nature in everybody.” Another reason to be kind … to everyone.

“Don't say anything you wouldn't want somebody to know.” Good advice for tweeters. A good rule of thumb would be: Don’t tweet (or text or email) anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to read.

“Anything for a quiet life.” Yes, yes. I was thinking last week how, 40 years ago, Linda and I once thought nothing of deciding on Friday morning to drive home from Chicago for the weekend … and now have to plan three days ahead to get to Joplin.

“The highest branch is not the safest roost. The higher up, the greater fall.” I’m guessing Governor Cuomo might be contemplating this one right now. Or should be.

“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” This is the way I’ve been following the Royals this year. I love ‘em … but they’re so consistently inconsistent; to the point where I have to turn off the TV at times because it’s just too painful to watch.

Here’s an expression that’s become my approach to life in general through the years: “Make haste slowly. There is luck in leisure.”

Which reminds me, it’s time for my siesta. I operate under the belief — first taught to me in Mrs. Massine’s kindergarten class — that it requires discipline for a person to take time to rest.

To rework the maxims that opened this column, “A lazy man never has time to take a nap.” And, “If you’re too busy to take a nap … you’re too busy.”

J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and eulogist. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net