A Word to the Wise: Appreciating the long and short of life

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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Not long before he died late last year, columnist and general overall curmudgeon Andy Rooney stated in an interview, “There is so much going on, who couldn’t write a column?” He said this after writing well over a thousand of them. It takes a certain perspective and outlook to be able to say that and then act on it. All too often for most of us life is made up of long stretches of predictability and boredom interrupted by the occasional fleeting moment of excitement. For years I kept a daily diary and faithfully wrote each night what happened that day. Many days were monotonous and repetitive, but it sure is fun and enlightening to read them now, picking up on the little nuances here and there that helped form my life years ago. These years I keep a five-year journal, maintaining Socrates’ ideal that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Each day is only three lines long. You can’t record very much, just the highlights. But that is enough. It reminds me of what Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Sy Safransky, editor of Sun magazine, wished, “If a word could only be true enough, if a day could only last.” Isn’t it true that we hate to see some days end and other days could easily and joyfully be forgotten? J. M. Barrie wisely noted that “the life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another.” Let’s hear an extended observation from the aforementioned Rooney. “I change my mind a lot about whether life is long or short. Looking back at how quickly a child grew up or how many years I’ve been out of high school, life seems to be passing frighteningly fast. Then I look around at the evidence of the day-to-day things I’ve done and life seems long. “Just looking at the coffee cans I’ve saved makes life look like practically forever. We only use eight tablespoons of coffee a day. Those cans represent a lot of days. Used coffee cans are the kind of statistics on life we don’t keep. Maybe if we kept them it would help give a feeling of longevity.” Life — it’s all around us, here for the living. Good and bad, memorable and forgettable, here it comes. You can reach Tom at