30 Days of Wisdom — Days 10-12: What?!! Tolkien’s Dragons, Lennon’s Tears and Swift’s One-liner

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So, yeah. I’m just going to lump all these together and not post again until the 13th because these three don’t need more than 300 words each and I don’t feel like cataloging them separately.

My blog. My rules.

Here they are, in their utter whateverness:

Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon
tags: happiness, timelessness, wisdom 7102 likes

Lennon: Sure. He makes sense. It’s all about quality not quantity. This is an old concept and I think God came up with it first when He said, Carpe Diem. Or whoever said that. The second part of this quote, I’m not terribly keen on. I think if Lennon were here, he’d maybe not feel the same about it now, providing that he weren’t stoned. This line is from “Imagine” which is a noble song made of unicorn pharts and pony smiles. What’s more, a little (30 seconds) research has indicated that the line itself was lifted from a poem … written by someone else who goes by the name, Anonymous. This Anonymous is a very famous person, and has been around for a very long time.

Back to Lennon. Not everything meaningful is measured in smiles. If I counted only on the smiles as reasons to look back on my life with any appreciation for my growth or evolution, I’d never learn anything. Smiles connote victory, validation. It’s not that I only want to count on the tears and the less-than smile-istic moments of my life as solely appreciable moments either, but I do think they really count. It’s through failing that we learn things and to try again. Lennon was being glib here, I am convinced; he just needed the lines to rhyme. It happens. The same dude who wrote “Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the band to come … I am the walrus” is also the same guy who wrote the quote above. Everything in due time. That his quote makes more sense or has more appeal than Swift’s, is completely a matter or popular culture. More people know who John Lennon is than might know who Jonathan Swift is. I can’t talk about John Lennon any more.

Now on to Swift.

“May you live every day of your life.
― Jonathan Swift
tags: inspirational, life, philosophy, wisdom 5962 likes

I can just imagine it. A cozy and comfortable townhouse in Dublin. It’s a gathering of loved ones and friends after the massive success of Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. Everyone is dressed in costumes of the story. Tiny catapults, mini tents, a massive shoe, and nautical effects dot the room. Powdered wigs, Japanese coutoure, bustiers, lace petticoats, papier mâche horseheads and velvet mourning coats with tails adorn some creatures in attendance. It’s like the P.Diddy White Party of the 18th Century.

Swift, the sagacious scribe and man of the cloth enters and stops before a large and long weathered table; something one might encounter on a tall ship, perhaps. A goblet of nog or mulled wine raised in one hand, the other resting on the seasoned wood planks before him. A hearty roast rests in the center, flanked by candlesticks and bowls of fruit and scary gelled concoctions of the day. The room, paneled in gorgeous oak and mahogany mouldings, is silent. Everyone has stopped chattering and all eyes are on Swift. Surely the clergyman has something profound to say. Logs in the fireplace crackle and hiss, a pop here and there, but that is all other than the sounds of inhales and exhales from everyone gathered. Footmen and maids line the walls, their eyes cast downward. It has been a whirlwind experience. Swift’s book was an instant success the moment he published it. He is composed, his eyes glance about the room with a sincere appreciation for everyone who has come to celebrate.

He takes a deep breath and raises his goblet several inches higher toward the heavens. His dewy eyes cast upward, a deep smile of gratitude is gently painted across his face. His face centers and he looks around the room once more and says,

“May you live every day of your life.”

Women swoon and men say, “Here here!”

But small child, about seven years old, stands up in his Gulliver garb and says,

“THAT’S IT?! THAT’S ALL YOU’VE GOT FOR ME?!”

Yes. That is all.

“PIffle.” I can hear Mom, snort and then imagine her smirking.

Yes, sometimes super-thinking writers say stupid stuff like that. I get the point: live. LIVE. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!! DAMN YOU!!!

It’s the least-emotional, least enthusiastic way of reminding us all to stop watching life go by. To look up from y’damned smartphones to see the beauty in a falling leaf. To catch the 2″ snowflakes while you can. To burn your tongue on a slice of pizza every once in a while and not sweat the calories. To laugh like you’re never going to stop and to cry as though you fear what’s tearing you up might not end. Feel the feelings. Take the chances. Live. Each day. One day at a time, the best you can muster. That’s what Swift should have said. What he did say was something entirely less emphatic.

Can’t win ’em all.

And then, speaking of not winning them all, there’s this one from Tolkien:

Never laugh at live dragons.
― J.R.R. Tolkien
tags: dragons, wisdom 5957 likes

I got nothin’.

Of course, Tolkien was being … super geeky and totally weird. If he were being anecdotal, let’s just take a stab at that, he might be meaning to keep yourself together and your wits about you when dealing with completely irrational people.

Everyone has the capacity to become a fire-breathing asshat. Likewise, we all have the capacity to completely lose it in front of the asshat and start laughing at it. That’s not too smart, because most irrational people are also reactive, probably paranoid and definitely angry. The best course of action when dealing with a live dragon? Tread lightly and then skedaddle.

That’s all I got. How this quote even ended up with “wisdom” … if you could see me shaking my head right now, you’d get it. But I’m committed to this, I’m in. 30 Days of Wisdom. I will throw you perhaps two more days of these to make up for it, but then again, maybe I won’t.

The next quote, Day 13, is good. Come back for it. It’s by Dumas. He wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The quote is chunky and really good. Trust me. I think it’s better than any of the quotes so far.

Thank you.

2 responses »

  1. I love John Lennon. Love him. But I just read his quote about his mom telling him how the key to life was to be happy, and then he did some assignment in school about “What do you want to be when you grow up,” and he said “happy.” And they said you don’t understand the assignment, and he said, no, you don’t. Long explanation, but my problem with this is the whole “happy” thing. I don’t think you can really strive for “happy.” Happy is a moment. It’s a great moment that we get and we should relish because it falls like a little leaf that you shouldn’t miss. But I don’t think you can expect to have that be your constant state of being.

    And the Tolkien quote? I think it means don’t be a dumb ass and get yourself into bad situations that are easily avoidable. Seems like something everyone should know, but think about how SO MANY people go through their entire lives pissing off dragons when they could’ve just walked away. When it would’ve been so easy to just not laugh, but pride, ego, or lack of empathy got in the way.

    And speaking of “dumb ass,” I’m a 10-year-old, but I can’t read “Dumas” without pronouncing it that way.

    • Did you see that post I shared on my wall from Liz Gilbert who wrote / quoted someone as saying that “the opposite of depression isn’t happiness but vitality”? I thought that was so profound, and then I read what you wrote / quoted and I am again amazed by the dovetailing of ideas, convention and thoughts: energy as it exposes itself to me (you, us, others) because: we are open to receiving it.

      Yeah – I get the Tolkien thing completely and you did a great job here of slimming it down. As usual! It kills me when quotes are “liked” and then taken completely out of context when they are added to a list.

      Dumas. Have you read Monte Cristo? Yikes. Talk about comeuppance.

      Thanks for chiming in Tammy!!! xoxoxo

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