Tag: George Carlin

Fountains of wisdom

Irrespective of the author, it’s always the words that count.

Just recently, a very good friend of this blog sent me a wonderful and inspiring set of words attributed to George Carlin.

As is usual, I took a quick dip into the internet to learn more about how these words came to be.  I soon came upon the Snopes website and their page The Paradox of Our Time.

Here’s what I read:

In May 1998, Jeff Dickson posted the ‘Paradox of Our Time’ essay to his Hacks-R-Us online forum, loosing it upon the Internet. That essay has since spread far and wide and has commonly been attributed to a variety authors, including comedian George Carlin, an unnamed Columbine High School student, the Dalai Lama, and that most prolific of scribes, Anonymous!

George Carlin very emphatically denied he had had anything to do with “Paradox,” a piece he referred to as “a sappy load of shit,” and posted his comments about being associated with this essay on his own web site. (The line about “His wife recently died” which was added to many forwarded versions referenced Brenda Carlin, the comedian’s wife, who passed away on 11 May 1997 of liver cancer. Carlin himself died in June 2008.)

The true author of the piece isn’t George Carlin, Jeff Dickson, or the Dalai Lama, nor is he anonymous. Credit belongs to Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church (who retired in 1998 after 29 years in that post). This essay appeared under the title “The Paradox of Our Age” in Words Aptly Spoken, Dr. Moorehead’s 1995 collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts.

Now, of course, what is presented on the Snopes webpage also may not be correct. But does it really matter? No!

What matters are the words themselves and the ability of words to inspire us and change the way we think about our lives.  So with that, here are those words.


The Paradox of Our Age

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how making a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…


I chose to share this with you. (Dear reader, feel free to share this as well!)

That good friend also included some of his own wisdoms.

  • Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
  • Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
  • Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
  • Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
  • Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment. For someday that person will not be there again.
  • Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

See you all tomorrow.

Some old reminders for a New Year!

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Buddhist quote.

A number of thoughts and experiences came together to prompt the writing of this Post.  It’s a much longer and more reflective post than usual but is offered in the loving hope that there can be no caring without sharing.

Firstly, good American friends, Gordon and Linda, whom Jean and I got to know in Mexico, recently sent us a Happy New Year

George Carlin

email, that included a slide presentation entitled Philosophy of Old Age.  It was based on the writings and wisdom of George Carlin, one of the all-time great comedians of the world.  But George Carlin (1937-2008) was much more than a great comedian.  Much of his humour was a playful but very sharp form of social commentary on the ‘big world’.  (P.S. George Carlin’s website is here, a rather strange experience in the sense of a virtual life after death.)

Anyway, back to the slide presentation from Gordon and Linda.

The slide presentation felt worthy of a post on Learning from Dogs but, thankfully, it was available in a better format for a WordPress Blog, a YouTube video.  Here it is.

You can see that there are some very deep but simple messages about what, in the end, are the really important things in life.  Top of the list is ‘love’.  Especially unconditional love.

That takes me to second element of what motivated me to write this piece.

Just 14 days ago, I participated in a memorial service described as ‘A Memorial Service For the Lives of Loved Ones Lost‘ at our local St Paul’s Episcopal Church here in Payson.  The idea came out of a comment from friend, mentor and fellow Blog author, Jon Lavin, who had noted that the language that I used when speaking of my father, now dead for well over 50 years, was the language of a child who hadn’t been ‘released’ from that event (I was just 12 at the time) rather than that of an adult who accepts that death is part of the natural order of the world.

Losing a loved one is tough, incredibly tough, and full of pain and anguish in a very deep-seated and personal manner.  That’s the perspective from the loved ones left behind with more life ahead of them.  But if one thinks of it in reverse, what is the one thing that we would want to leave behind when we die?

It is, without doubt, that our death does not leave in the hearts and souls of those left behind, whom we loved and who loved us, pain and anguish that isn’t embraced and dealt with healthily.

It was that collective unresolved pain and anguish that brought all of us together at that Service on the 20th.  It was a wonderful release for all present.  During the Service the Advent Wreath candles were lit.  Here are selection of the thoughts that were voiced and released as the four candles were lit.

This first candle we light is to remember those whom we have loved and lost.  We pause to remember their name, their face, their voice, the memory that binds them to us in this season.

This second candle we light is to redeem the pain of loss; the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of health.  We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God, asking that from God’s hands we receive the gift of peace.

This third candle we light is to remember ourselves this Christmas time.  We pause and remember these past weeks and months and years; the disbelief, the anger, the down times, the poignancy of reminiscing, the hugs and handshakes of family and friends, all those who stood with us.

This fourth candle is lit to remember our faith and the gift of hope which the Christmas story offers us.

Light defeats darkness.

Go back and see those words that accompanied the lighting of the third candle. It included “to remember ourselves“. Once again, it’s loving ourselves, accepting that we spend our lives doing our best; in other words the answers to the unresolved issues that can haunt us is simple acceptance of who you are and being at peace with you!

Now I’m conscious that this is running on a bit but I pray that this is reaching out to others – we all need better clarity at times in our lives.  So before I go on to the third and last element which has me in front of this keyboard, let me share what I wrote, privately, a few days before the Service on the 20th in trying to make sense of my own feelings about the loss of my father.

    If we don’t embrace who we are and why we are who we are, i.e. real self awareness, we are condemned to being emotionally dysfunctional to a greater or lesser degree for a long time.  If we understand and love ourselves, avoiding the ‘easy’ route of constantly reminding ourselves what is ‘wrong’ with us, not being a victim to guilt, and on and on, then we see a better, softer, more loving world though our eyes.  Then the world reflecting back what we think about most rewards us with a better, softer, more loving world. 

    Loving ourselves, letting go, opening our arms to peace and joy is the true gift that we have really been given by the ‘loss’ of the loved one.

What I am embracing is that the emotional consequences of my father’s death, all those many, many years ago, created degrees of emotional dysfunction that went on for far too long.  Being free to walk clear of those emotional ‘hooks’ is not only so much better for me and those who love me, it is exactly what my father would have wanted!

Being clear of deep emotional burdens allows us to love ourselves and from that comes the greatest personal gift of all – unconditional love for others.  There’s that love word again!

OK, now to the third and final element!  Wake up at the back there!

The year 2010 was for me and Jean the epitome of a joyous journey that started, coincidentally, on a December 20th, this one in 2007.  On that evening in a bar/nightclub in San Carlos, Mexico, six days after I had arrived to stay with friends who had known Jean for many years, that I asked Jean for a dance, put my arm around her waist, and experienced something mystical – I knew she was the woman I would love to my last breath.

Thirty-five months later, on November 20th 2010, Jean and I were married in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Payson, Arizona.  We had been living together in Mexico since September 2008 and in Payson since February, 2010.  In Payson we have found a wonderfully interesting, generous and supportive community and our 13 dogs just love our rural home tucked into the forest; it is a very beautiful existence.

Frankly, I find it almost impossible to get my head around in any rational way as to how life can be so randomly alluring – we really have so little control over it all!  Save for how we accept and love ourselves.  Thus my own haltering and challenging steps to better self-awareness have given me more than I could ever have dreamed of.  This realisation has left me feeling pretty emotional over the Christmas period.

From those emotions has come, for the first time in my life, the awareness of mortality.  Not in some sort of intellectual homage to the notion that it doesn’t go on forever.  No, this is a real, hard-edged, realisation that I am going to die! It’s a clear vision, as clear as those beautiful stars shining out from the brittle cold, night sky over Payson very early on New Year’s Day. My mortal life is going to end.

And that, my dear readers is that.  Go back and watch that video from George Carlin, think about those past loved ones in your life and what they gifted you and, above all, feel your own love for you, savour it, and share it around.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Buddhist quote.

Whoops, just on the phone!

The unacceptable side of mobile (cell) phones.

Recently, I saw something come in to my in-box that just held my attention for sufficiently long to get me to move from scan reading to actually thinking about what I was reading and how it made me feel.

The US government may require cars to include scrambling tech that would disable mobile-phone use by drivers, and perhaps passengers.

“I think it will be done,” US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said on Wednesday morning, according to The Daily Caller. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones.

No, this is not some other form of Government interference in areas of our lives that are irrelevant to the real world.  This is serious stuff:

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always so outspoken about the dangers of distracted driving. Like a lot of folks, I just didn’t give a lot of thought to it.

But that all changed as I met people from coast to coast who told me about the loved ones they lost in senseless crashes caused by texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. And it was their stories–of dreams shattered and lives cut short–that turned the fight to end distracted driving into my personal crusade.

These people have had a profound effect on me. And I think their stories will have a profound effect on you.


Just last year, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 500,000 more were injured in distracted driving-related crashes.  But, these aren’t statistics. They’re children and parents, neighbors and friends.

So this really does deserve thinking about.  As The Register article puts it:

The problem is that the average driver doesn’t think that he or she is an average driver: nearly two-thirds of drivers think of themselves as safer and more skillful than a driver of median safety or skills — a statistical impossibility, of course.

When faced with the prospect of automotive mobile phones being disabled, we’d be willing to bet that most drivers, suffused with confidence in their own skills, will think in terms of personal inconvenience and a restriction on personal freedom.

Perhaps it might be better to think of the guy texting in the lane to your left, or the gal yelling at her ex on her iPhone in the lane to your right, and think not of your own inconvenience, but of some distracted dolt killing you.

Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: “Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!”

LaHood may be right. Disabling mobile phones in cars should not be looked at as a way of protecting you from yourself, but instead as a way of protecting you from the stupid.

Quite so!

By Paul Handover