Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Life's lessons in a sentence

There are too many old fools in the world to believe that age necessarily brings wisdom. But as I reach 65 I wonder if I have done enough to pass on to my children concise observations on life that might help them, at least, avoid some of the lessons their dad has learned the hard way.
Looking back I can remember my own father only giving me one actual piece of advice. It was on marriage – and though unlikely to have been original, it was certainly accurate.
“It’s not the woman you can’t live without you want to marry but the woman you can live with,” he said. For the most part the legacy he left his own children was to live by example - until the day he died he was a quiet, hardworking man who loved his family.
One problem with popular proverbs is that some are contradictory. Many hands make light work but too many cooks spoil the broth. Faint heart never won fair lady but you should also look before you leap.
As a younger man advice was delivered by contemporaries in cynical sound bites. Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen. Never apologise, never explain. And the one that continues to make good sense today, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Along the way I picked up a few observations which time has proven to be of value to me. I don’t know where I came across the suggestion that you should love your children most when they least deserve it. But it was Queen Elizabeth, who said after the 9/11 attacks, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
On a much lighter note I like the thought that dancing is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. In any pub or bar the Latin “In vino veritas” always occurs to me whenever alcohol is being consumed too quickly. Not so much that in wine (there is the) truth but a person’s true character is revealed when booze neutralises their caution.
Finally, I don’t know if it counts as a saying – certainly not a proverb – but good counsel just the same, was my mother’s words that echo down the decades “You should always wear clean underwear in case you are knocked down by a bus.”


  1. You have picked out some good sayings here, but of course there are many more.

    Some of these sayings are a life sentence; trying to live within its confined word space.

    Are there any sayings tailored to go with the modern day living?

  2. But isn't that the nature of a popular saying? It ceases to be popular whenever it is no longer relevant regardless of however long it's been around. GC


What do you think? GC