1. Just saw a joke I have been using for years stolen by the opening to a great new movie, “Don’t Look Me Up.”
Here it is: “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather did, not screaming like the three passengers in his car.” It’s also one of the most entertaining films you will ever see, a true satirical parody of our times.
2. Discovered on the Twitter feed of Rod Serling’s daughter, an Emmy award-winning journalist, a line I have taken to heart these days. But it is universal, no matter what your station in life or where you find yourself: “Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.” Have faith. You may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but you can always adjust your sails.
3. A striking line is coming your way in the remake of the 1947 classic movie “Nightmare Alley”: “You don’t ‘fool’ people. People fool themselves.” Don’t take credit when fools act foolishly. It’s really on them. You control your own destiny by each and every choice you make every day.
4. Remember the elementary school electricity experiment in science class where you were asked to guide a needle with a tiny circle on the end around a thin wire without ever making contact, because if you did, the connection would make the light go off? There was a message there beyond a current. Walking a steady path in life is not the easiest task. Everyone encounters and endures challenges. I mean, how many people do you know that can walk a balance beam forever?
5. You learn a lot of lessons as a kid that remain useful throughout the rest of your life. When you fall off a bicycle, you get back up. If you touch a hot stove, it burns. If a bully pushes you around, it’s easier to stand up to him once, than run forever. If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach him to fish, he will eat forever. Less is more.
6. COVID. Delta. Omicron. I remember the day when a virus meant your computer was sick, not you. I know you can’t find monoclonal antibodies in hospitals anymore, but do you think there might be some on Atari or Xbox?
7. Don’t rely on my random ruminations every week. There is a guy named Ashleigh Brilliant, now 88, who has churned one-line missives into thousands of quips published in 11 different books. You can read them forever. Some are serious and some mysterious, featuring doses of humor and insight into the human condition. To Amazon, go.
Mr. Brilliant was punching out a bounty full of pontifications under 140 characters 25 years before Twitter even existed. There are too many to list a single favorite, but if you are down about yourself during the Holidays, keep this one under your belt: “Maybe I’m lucky to be going so slowly, because I may be going in the wrong direction.”
Still, don’t get too comfortable, because I will remind and promise you this: even a turtle only makes progress when he sticks his neck out. I played a lot of baseball. You can’t steal second base until you take your foot off first.
8. You know, as we grow older, we tend to play down our birthdays and birthday parties, unless they are special years, like 65, 70, or 75. However, when you have cancer and are a chemotherapy patient, I have to tell you that your next birthday has a special meaning no matter what the hell your age is.
My Associate Publisher is 30 years younger but from Kentucky. So I am guessing he did not do a lot of sleigh riding in the snow when he was a kid. In New York, I did. Pushing the sled up the hill was a bitch, but, you know, once you are over the hill, you pick up speed.
So, I just went out and bought a bottle of Crown Royal, placed it in a glass case right on the kitchen counter. I put a sticker on it, reading “Do Not Open until October 18, 2022,” my birthday. Little goals go a long way. And I warned my roommates and alleged caretakers that no “Elf on a Shelf” better touch it.
9. Shape events. Don’t let them shape you. Make-believe you are a character in a video game like that funny movie “Free Guys.” Write your own code. Don’t let anybody script your life. Rebel, revolt, react, rise. Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones.
10. Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and Hanukkah, and that you have a pleasant New Year. Don’t worry about the gifts you got, or what was under the tree for you. What matters most is who was around the tree with you.