Carrol Vertrees: Old sayings resonate on the porch
BY CARROL VERTREES For the Post-Tribune September 21, 2013 1:14PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:17AM
In the smug, convenient conclusion that my advanced age deserves a lot of respect, I feel free to spend a lot of time on my porch pondering the meaning of life.
Like I wonder what this anonymous fellow (or lady) meant by, “If you make a mess, clean it up.” Does it mean that I should mop and do menial stuff? Probably it goes deeper than that, but I do not want to act in haste.
I usually come back to this from Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Pithy sayings don’t all come from famous folks. Like this one: “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” It is true.
I think of that from an anonymous author when I remember how Miss Grace led me to the trough of understanding about a mysterious thing called algebra. She could not get me to drink. Algebra is a creation with a lot of unknowns. One of the unknowns is, “Who needs algebra?” Maybe Yogi knows.
There is another rural truism mentioned in the Bible or a hymn. Something about “All we like sheep.” I remember being drenched during a big storm, trying to get dozens of sheep to come home to shelter. They refused to enter the open gate until I forced one through and then they all followed. Sounds like humans. We like to follow.
As I sit on the porch watching birds and ruminating over famous sayings, I quickly remember this one: “If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.”
This one is a gem: “If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.”
Try these during your Happy Hour: Mark Twain said, “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” H.G. Wells said, “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” And this from Golda Meier to a diplomat: “Don’t be so humble. You aren’t that great.”
Gen. MacArthur said, “We are not retreating — we are advancing in another direction.”
Even I, a farm boy, created a phrase that family members did not let me forget. When I could not find something my mom sent me to get, she always found it quickly, and I said, “It wasn’t there when I looked.” Was I the only kid who ever said something like that?
Most of us won’t have our names linked to memorable sayings, but we can leave our mark. The anonymous writer tells us in profound simplicity: “If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.”
Even I know that it is not always words that mean so much, as a wise fellow reminds us: “People may not recall what you said, or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
I reckon that means we may not know if we touch people, but they will know.
Sitting in an easy chair on the porch, just thinking is rewarding, but unfortunately it does not get the floor mopped.