Author: Cornish, Rick

Time on yours hand? Here’s a little exercise.

Many of us who dabble in FaceBook have come to appreciate the quotes….the little truisms…..that folks routinely post. Some are pithy, some funny, and some downright instructive. With this in the back of my mind, about three weeks ago I happened upon a book here at home entitled “1,000 American Quotes”; I’d bought the book for my friend, B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher, some years back but had never gotten around to sending it to him.

As I sat skimming through the pages I began imagining some of these notable Americans, Franklin, Frost, Monroe (Marilyn, that is) and under what circumstances they came to write or say their respective profundities. Some were lifted out of the text of memoires, others out of speeches and some were transcribed onto reporters’ tablets. Notable exceptions, of course, were Ben Franklin and Mark Twain. These two made a living, in part, of course, popping off little two and three and four liners for mass consumption and, amazingly, a good part of what they did was brilliant. How could Poor Richard, Franklin’s alter ego, just sit down, pen in hand, and rattle these things off?

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.

A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.

A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Did he have to psych himself up? Maybe read what some other heavyweights wrote before each session? And how many bad ones would he have to write before a good one surfaced. Well, I decided to try to find out.

Here’s what I’d do—each day for thirty days I’d attempt to write one truism, that is, one ‘quotable quote’. And each day I’d post what I’d written on FaceBook to see if it could generate any feedback….and, of course, what kind of feedback. The goal would be to come up with at least one good quote during the experiment. Those were pretty much the parameters. I set no requirements for serious vs. humorous quotes, length, subject, etc. (I know, some of you are thinking, this guy has time on his hands. Truth is, at this time in my life, I do.)

So, I’ve gone through twenty-five days, five left to go, and I’ve discovered a few things. First, as a writing exercise the quotes experiment has been very useful. More than anything else, it’s given me some new insights into compressing a lot into a little without losing the essential concept. And in doing so, of course, the exercise forces a much, much broader exploration of just the right words. But beyond the writing part of it, what I discovered was that I, Rick Cornish, have what could be loosely referred to as a personal philosophy. In all honesty, I’d never really given that much thought before.

So, here are my first twenty-five attempts. (Why didn’t I wait till the end of the experiment to post this? The answer’s simple—today’s my turn for writing a Welcome.


All strife and poverty and injustice would disappear from this planet over night if fifty percent less people and fifty percent more dogs populated it.

Most of us write our lives in three or four chapters; only a precious handful use more than a single genre.

One’s shortcomings, and the changes required to ameliorate them, should be factored into every new day’s plan, even if only unconsciously.

High school is nothing more than a dress rehearsal for what comes later. The characters remain the same, though the names and faces change, and, of course, the plot thickens. We’re given four years of relative safety to try out and hone the living skills we’ll have to rely on the rest of our lives

National exceptionalism, as practiced these days by a growing number of politicians and their followers, can be a slippery slope. Without even noticing, one’s country can turn into a parody of itself.

Comparing wives and dogs is a little like comparing crème brûlée to a fresh peach.

Two people meet, fall in love and get married when each of them believes the other one is too good for them.

I have found that having regular talks with my dog, even if I do have to keep up both ends of the conversation, have surprisingly positive benefits for both body and mind.

Human imagination is like having an etch-a-sketch in your skull, except, with an etch-a-sketch, the little knobs and pulleys can wear out.

Saying that Washington fat cats do what they do because of a lust for money is untrue and unfair. They do what they do because of a lust for power and an insatiable appetite for having their picture taken with adoring D.C. tourists.

The American taxpayer has two ways of looking at welfare: 1) it’s a way for those of us who have something to help those who have nothing or very little….offering a leg up; or 2) it’s a way for those of us who have something to hang on to most of it…..sort of Chicago-style protection with the government playing the part of ‘bag man’. I choose the former because I find I sleep better.

There is no more perfect silence than that which immediately follows the changing of one's email address.

For some people….(okay, I’ll admit it, for me)….forgiveness is like a cat coughing up a hairball. The anger sits in the pit of my stomach for a long while before I’m even ready to try to expel it; in extreme cases it can sit for years. Then, once I begin, it comes up slowly and wretchingly, painfully up and through the intestines, wriggling noisily through the esophagus, gaining speed at the throat and finally into and out of the mouth. The process can take days. Best just not to develop hairballs in the first place.

At the heart of every truly great man or woman is a truly colossal ego and the wherewithal to keep it on a sustainable diet.

They say if you have one dog, you have one dog. If you have two dogs, you have two dogs. But if you have three dogs, you have a pack. They are right.

Recent research has proven that giving up the pursuit of goals that are unobtainable can be a healthy thing. Lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease and cancer, etc.. What can really make you sick, the same researchers found, is trying figure out which goals can actually be reached and which goals can’t.

Those who allow their job…..their career… become their identity risk living a life constrained by consultant’s agreement or, worse, a job description.

A man steps into a room filled with women, all within a few years of age apart, and, as is typical of most men, his eyes dart around until they come to rest on the loveliest. She is breathtakingly beautiful and clearly twenty years younger than all the rest. She is the man’s wife. This phenomenon ranks very high among the gifts with which we, as a species, have been blessed by nature.

Life is a lot like making stew; you’ve got to stir constantly for the scum to comes to the top.

Holistic medicine is to the American Medical Association what Judge Judy is to jurisprudence.

My father told me once that he loved me. I swore I’d tell my sons everyday, and by God, I did. Now, each day my boys wake singing a sweet mantra of love to their children.

Those married folk wishing to remain so must be as facile with the practicality of like as they are with the theory of love.

If you have more than enough self-esteem, an over-abundance of self-confidence, if you find that you have too little trouble dropping off to sleep at night, that you have difficulty keeping track of all your faults, if you’re a connoisseur of the cheap shot, volunteering as the leader of a non-profit may be just the thing for you.

The best kind of leader functions as society’s synapse, activating the connection between those crucial two neurons, what we believe and what we do.

Dreams are the cotton candy of consciousness; nightmares, the occasional bad oyster.

Posted:  8/29/2011

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