A cowboy’s advice for leaders everywhere:
“Before you go into a canyon, know how you’ll get out.”
Books, parables, quotations, and other flights of fancy …
Christopher Morley is right when he advises us, “The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing it’s own thinking.”
Nothing we’ve come up with yet, can equal a book for doing that, can it?
Good conversation may equal moments of intellectual discovery in books, though we need a fine memory to hold it, and memories, like old photographs fade; book do too, I suppose, but take longer.
Being a sucker for books is not a bad idiosyncrasy, you can have unread books on the shelf which are waiting like spring seeds ready to flower as soon as the ideas in them are planted in a waiting mind.
Besides Syndey Smith makes it tenable with his thought: “No furniture is so charming as books, even if you never open them or read a single word.”
They’re also easier to store than antique cars, cheaper to drive too, and, if your library is well chosen, you have some of the world’s best teachers at your beck and call.
And to top it off, it’s a reasonable addiction since a few shelves are all that’s needed to keep it up.
Sometimes a random book choice is a challenge.
For example, this title grabbed my eye in a book bin somewhere — The 637 Best things anybody ever said. The price was right at $3.75 in 1982, so into my pocket it went.
The very first quote is from P.G. Wodehouse. “Why don’t you get a haircut? You look like a chrysanthenum.”
The very last one by the compiler and gatherer of the other 636, Robert Byrne is, “Science has not yet found a cure for the pun.”
Neither are particularly memorable, so, why buy it?
Leafing through books is like searching for gold, you never know when a special ‘mind nugget’ will pop out of the sand in the pan or the mind, with the potential of taking you into unimagined realms.
I live in hope, as we surely must, lest we prefer the alternative, as the Irish proverb on page 224 suggests, “It is better to be a coward for a minute, than dead for the rest of your life.”
In between quote one and quote 637, is an eclectic bunch. Unknown, one of the more prolific contributors, is given credit for observing that which seems to apply to all governments, large and small: “After all is said and done, more is said, than done.”
George Bernard Shaw’s usual caustic comment adds: “Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”
And Montaigne carries us further along this trail suggesting, “Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by the dozen.”
Bertrand Russell keeps us going with, “Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed,” and along comes Hervey Allen with a curve: “Religions change: beer and wine remain.”
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, joins the cowboy, and brings us back to earth with: “I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.”
Since Alice has brought us back to earth Henry Van Dyke’s comment sure fits: “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.”
On the other side of the fence, Herman Wouk reminds us whoever came up with spring time as income tax time had a twisted sense of humour with his poke at us, and them: “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”
As we wonder who, and when, someone will see the first robin, or find the first crocus, the cowboy has a couple more worth considering. About our wilderness he said, “I go to the bush to smooth it, not to rough it,” and, “Though there’s no bone in the tongue, it has often broken a man’s head.”
A tip of the hat to books, authors and readers, of all shapes and sizes.
May your spring experience this year equal, or better, Langston Hughes, who had a good one: “I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.”