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From the Publisher's Desk – New Year offers fresh approach (Jan. 7, 2015 issue)

For my first column of 2015, I searched for words of wisdom to share with readers. So, of course, I turned to humor.
Actually, I recalled a list I saw several years ago by the great, late Erma Bombeck. She was a humorist who became popular through a newspaper column about suburban home life. I always enjoyed her plain-spoken way of looking at life and addressing subjects. It often caused me to think, or at least think out of my normal realm.
Erma Bombeck supposedly was asked one day what she would change if she had her life to live over again. The following,are her answers.
“If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.
“Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
“I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
“I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
“I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.
“I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
“I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.
“I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.
“I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.
“I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.
“I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.
“I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.
“I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.
“When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”
“There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”
I feel there is a lot of good advice in her words for a new year. Often we set high objectives and goals that we might keep for a week or two. Sometimes the healthiest life and the most rewarding life is just slowing down long enough to connect with those around us and connect with ourselves.
At times I feel like there are multiple versions of “Keith” out there. One version interacts with the public and shows interest in all details of people’s lives. The other one just sits quietly in a chair, in the corner of the bedroom and prefers no interaction at all. There is the Keith Whitson who keeps everyone entertained with humor at work. When called to the front office to greet someone, that guy will walk to the front with complete composure.
We all worry so much about what others think. We worry about meeting their expectations. We worry over someone dropping in with the house dirty, using the good china and chipping a plate. We worry over what we wear, how we look and how we are perceived.
During the Christmas holidays, I went shopping one night with fellow employee Keeli Parkey. Of course we ended up at a bookstore. Believe it or not, I bought three books by Dr. Seuss.
It was a nostalgic moment for me. My very first books I could read were Dr. Seuss. Well, I assume I could read them–it was probably just memorization. Family would gather around for me to impress them with my newfound reading skills. The first installment was “Hop on Pop.”
I knew nothing of phonics and sentence structure or how to sound out words. But I learned from rhyming.
“Pat, Pat, they call him Pat. Pat sat, he sat on hat.” Pat went on to sit on a cat, a bat and almost a cactus. The cactus got the response of “No, Pat, don’t sit on that.”
Life was simple in those early Dr. Seuss books. My resolution for the new year is to simplify life again, to appreciate the small details and not worry over the things that really don’t matter.
Celebrate yourself this year and be happy with you. Life could change so quickly. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”