As I prepare for the mother of all brain surgeries on Wednesday morning to extract the entire toxic legions infecting and affecting my cerebrum and cerebellum, I have a column to share.
They are words and thoughts I have collected over the years.
Call it circuit overload, but they have meaning, purpose, and legs. They are healing and helpful, hopeful, and optimistic, and as I said, I hope it is the first of many more words ahead.
First to John Fugate, family and friends, thank you for standing by me and loving me, through all my faults and failings. It takes a long time to become the person you want to be, and the individual your dog thinks you are.
Second, at any age, you matter. Reach out and touch someone. You never know who you are impressing, or whose life you are impacting. Even the orderly wheeling you down an isolated and cold hallway into a lonely and cold operating room could be offering you needed warmth and support at a critical time in your life. You matter.
Third, making a “living” is not the same thing as "making a life." It is not what you become; it is how you become what you become that matters in life. Become, first of all, a good and loving person.
Fourth, don’t ever sell yourself short. Be all you can be. Your height is measured by the size of your heart, not the yardstick next to your closet that your mom measured you by as a child.
Fifth, feel good about yourself, but not for too long. You could be missing out on the next chance to do a new dance. Don’t let who you are stop you from becoming what you may be.
Sixth, not sure just how important you have to be "assassinated" instead of just "murdered." Avoid both. Either way, you can drink water from a garden hose and still grow up to live a life that counts.
Seventh, it was great being raised as a Jewish boy; one of God’s chosen people. I just wish He would stop choosing so many of us.
Eighth, learn to let go and move on. You can’t play with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. In life, you need to be able to throw some things back.
Ninth, ask simple questions: Why is sandwich meat round and bread square? When did Ben become gay, and was he born that way?
Tenth, laugh at yourself and you will never cease to be amused, especially when you are untangling next month’s Christmas lights.
Eleventh, like Robert Frost, and Martin Luther King, have a lover’s quarrel with the world. Consider that people tried to get Superman and Donald Duck comics banned in America; that it was once illegal in Fort Lauderdale for a black man to be east of US 1 after 6 p.m. And that was in 1949, the year I was born.
Twelfth, George Carlin was a genius. We have taller buildings and shorter tempers, wider freeways and narrower viewpoints. America has gone to the moon, but some of us have not crossed the street to meet our neighbors.
Thirteenth, a closed mouth gathers no foot. Never miss a good chance to shut up. We learned to rush, but not to wait.
Fourteenth, slow down but don’t stop. Even if you are on the right track, if you don’t move, sooner or later a train will run you over.
Fifteenth, if you lend someone $20, and you never see it again, don’t be upset. It was probably worth it. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
Sixteenth, like it or not, some days are just going to be a total waste of makeup. You can learn a lot about your friends by the way they handle rainy days.
Seventeenth, the things you think are intimately most personal are universally most common. Like farting. Ironically, what we all have most in common is that we are all individually unique in our own way.
Eighteenth, diversity is the essence of life. We can’t fly like birds or swim like fish but respect the fact that whether we look like a baboon’s ass or a Belize monkey, we are all partners on the spaceship Earth. Fear intolerance of individuality and independence.
You have an absolute right to exercise and use your rights. But you have no right to misuse or abuse them at the expense of the people around and about you. Respect is a two-way street.
Summer is not on any map you will ever see. Go there anyway. There is love to share there, someplace, somewhere, and with someone — though preferably not with that 12-year-old boy waiting for a school bus.
Eighteen is the Jewish number for life, the day I was born in October of 1949. L’Chaim.
L’Chaim, to life. May I find many more with you in the days ahead.