Which really did come first? Was it the chicken or the egg?
I pondered this aloud this morning with my eight-year-old daughter as I fired up some breakfast before school.
I asked her what she thought about the conundrum.
“The egg,” she answered, matter-of-factly.
“Cool,” I replied. “So who laid the egg?”
The look on her face said that she was busted. But not willing to admit it, she (again, matter-of-factly) said, “God.”
“Are you sure God didn’t make the chicken, and then the chicken laid the egg?” I offered.
“Nope,” she said. “It was the egg.”
“Yep, you’re probably right.”
After putting Cassidy on the school bus, and while cleaning the mess I made in the kitchen, I chuckled to myself as I recalled our conversation. One of my favorite writers, Robert Brault, wrote, “There was never a wise saying that couldn’t be made wiser by adding the words, ‘and vice-versa.'”
My mother, who was an honors English teacher, always hung framed poems and sayings on the walls around our house. I memorized all the ones in the downstairs bathroom, since I spent a lot of quiet time in there. Still today, the downstairs bathroom is my most-frequented reading spot. Whoops, sorry . . . TMI(!) . . .
Anyway, I have always been a fan of wise and inspirational quotes. In fact, in one of my early flashes of entrepreneurship back in 1983, I thought about creating a company that printed quotes on wooden plaques. Not poems, like my mother hung, but just quips and one-liners, like Humphrey Bogart was always quick to produce. That thought blossomed into the idea of beautiful framed scenes with the quotes etched in the background. Maybe I would also print quotes on mugs, shirts, hats, etc.
Then I made my critical mistake. I asked a few of my cheap, tacky friends what they thought of the idea. They laughed. They said things like “That’s stupid” and “Who would ever buy something like that?” Yeah, they were probably right.
Just a few years later, Successories opened in my local mall and became my all-time favorite store. It’s founder, Mac Anderson, apparently didn’t listen to his friends and created a multi-million dollar global brand that he eventually took public.
Oh well, “Better to be safe than sorry,” right?
Or is it, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained?”
You know, “Look before you leap.”
Or is it, “He who hesitates is lost?”
I never lost my love of the English language, and though I never became an “inspirational plaques” mogul, I did become a writer.
Okay, a sportswriter. It’s kind of the same thing. And there, just like my conversation with my daughter at breakfast this morning, I used to bounce around contradictory sayings with the guy who worked for me, Kim Harmon. Yes, he was a guy named Kim and he wasn’t Hawaiian.
He’d be working on a story and would suddenly say aloud, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I’d answer, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Another day he might pronounce, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
I’d reply, “Oh yeah? But actions speak louder than words.”
These stupid, impromptu conversations all happened in the olden days (ie, before the internet) but they’re dear to me because they taught me that no matter how wise somebody’s words may sound, our truths in life are the ones we choose to accept as our truths.
I mean tell Bill Gates that “Quitters never win.”
There is such truth to that comment, but the truth (again) is always relative.
Bill Gates did quit Harvard. But he didn’t quit striving. He didn’t quit living. He didn’t quit innovating.
When it comes down to it, life is full of quitters who went on to absolute greatness.
Niels Bohr, a physicist who won the Nobel Prize for in 1922 for his work in atomic structure and quantum theory (you’re probably wondering where I found this guy!) said, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” Hmmm.
I guess what it comes down to is that if you want to find the real truth in life, you have to do it by yourself and you can’t do it alone.
Here are some more contradictions to have fun with:
Many hands make light work.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
A silent man is a wise one.
A man without words is a man without thoughts.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Clothes make the man.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Better safe than sorry.
Money isn’t everything.
It’s all about the Benjamins!
The bigger, the better.
The best things come in small packages.
Life is what you make it.
What will be, will be.
The more the merrier.
Two’s company, three’s a crowd.
Never too old to learn.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
The best things in life are free.
You get what you pay for.
Amid all this (hopefully) thought provoking rhetoric, I’ve been lucky enough to realize that I can completely create my own truth in this world. We all manifest our own truth. We make it all up.
In fact, when Cassidy gets home from school today I’m going to tell her that the chicken and the egg both came together. In fact, it was I who discovered them while whipping up a barbecued chicken and cheese omelet. I just hope she doesn’t run it by her teacher tomorrow.
She may or may not believe me, but – in any case . . .
I’m Glad I Drank the Kool-Aid!