December 29, 2011 —
Scanning through the archives of columns I’ve penned in the last year, I failed to find inspiration in a single word I’ve written. Rather than be depressed, I decided to turn to others for pithy comments and have (blind, unfounded) faith that I may say something worth remembering as 2012 unfolds.
There are those in the community who might be surprised to find me at a loss for words, but (believe it or not) it does happen, on rare occasion—and I set out to surf the web seeking divine intervention. Since I could not uncover anything I’ve said worthy of (IMHO) repeating, I began my journey by sifting through what others find quotable.
Ironically, the first words to resonate with me were uttered by someone I’ve never heard of, named Michel de Montaigne. I neither speak nor read French, but I stumbled across an English translation attributed to him (www.speaking-tips.com ) which reads, “I quote others only the better to express myself.” A college professor once called me “lazy” for quoting others and suggested that I explore “original thought” in future endeavors. Nice. Unwilling to admit that I could be experiencing “writer’s block” (to say nothing of lack of oxygen to the brain) I delved further, feverishly searching for more on the subject (which by now has slipped my mind) at hand. Oh right, the new year.
Once again, a fellow with whom I am unfamiliar popped up. Bill Vaughn, who was (according to www.thinkexist.com ) an “American industry author, mentor and subject-matter expert” once said, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Since “subject-matter expert” seemed ambiguous enough a title for even me to cling to, I embraced Vaughn’s’ musings and read on.
Scrolling down the page, I came across James Agate, who (unbeknownst to me) was a “British diarist and considered one of Britain’s most influential theater critics.” The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (www.artsalliancesite.org ) gallery curator Rocky Pinciotti once dubbed me the “Baird Jones of the Catskills”, so I feel justified in aligning myself with this Agate guy. (Who was Baird Jones, you ask? Google him...I’m busy.)
Feeling like I was on a roll, I checked out what this other brilliant critic had to say about marking the calendar. Flipping through his diary, I noted these words: “New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.” Rather than sharing Agate’s opinion of those around him, it is myself I sometimes consider the fool and silently pray that others tolerate me while I prattle on, taking up their precious time. Hmm.
Still at a loss for (original) words, I decided to peruse the writings of those slightly more influential than myself and hovered over this quote by T.S. Eliot, who waxed rhapsodic (www.poets.org ) by saying “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” Unwittingly, Eliott has faith in me, so who am I to argue?
Pausing to grab some holiday leftovers (I don’t cook, but thankfully my neighbors do), I came across a suitable quote to enhance my lunch, but failed to discover (search as I might) who said it. Appropriate (albeit lighthearted) I quote the uncredited author, who said “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” Oddly reminiscent of words Mae West once famously spoke, I nodded my head silently and ate another menorah-shaped cookie that I had not baked.
My mind rarely (if ever) approaches deep thought; therefore I decided to check out what a humorist might have said worth quoting, since I have been called the “H” word once or twice during my roller-coaster career. I stumbled across the words of Joey Adams, who (coincidentally?) wrote the book “Borscht Belt” in 1973. After being inducted into the Friars Club Hall of Fame (www.wikipedia.org ) in 1977, Adams left the crowd with this: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” Surely, someone will drop an expensive bottle of champagne (I don’t shop) at my door before we ring in the new year, and when they do... I’ll drink to that!