Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lake Wobegon Philosophy

In honor of the big snow/sleet storm in the Northeast this past week and dedicated in part to my students, I post these aphorisms courtesy of Garrison Keillor. I was trying to give some life advice to one of my students and my eyes were drawn to a page I ripped out of the Tanglewood program on my refrigerator. For the past two Julys, Bruce and I have attended live tapings of "A Prairie Home Companion" in Lenox, MA and enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

It's interesting...when I was young my father used to listen to APHC on the radio and I thought it was the most boring program on earth. Now, in my 30s, I think it's the best. Funny how age changes things. Can I even begin to explain this shift to my students?

A Lake Wobegon Philosophy
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do this before they do unto you what you don’t want them to do. Shame them with goodness. Kill them with kindness. Cut their throats with courtesy.

2. The way to do something is to do it. Persevere. If you want to become the Tallest Boy In The Sixth Grade, stick around, keep at it, and the prize will be yours.

3. Try not to talk about the relationship. And don’t refer to it as a relationship. Either it’s a friendship or a romance or an illicit affair or you’re related.

4. The rules for marriage are the same as the rules for a life raft. No sudden moves. Don’t crowd the other person. Keep all thoughts of disaster to yourself. Almost any marriage can be helped simply by having more fun. If necessary, try taking your clothes off.

5. Put a big dish by the door, next to an electric outlet, and when you come home, put your car keys and your billfold in the dish and plug your mobile phone into the outlet to recharge. Keep an extra pair of glasses in the bowl too. In the time you’ll save not looking for these things every day, you’ll be able to write War and Peace. Or the Mass in B minor.

6. All tragedy is misunderstood comedy. God is a great humorist who is working with a rather slow audience. Lighten up. Whatever you must do, do it wholeheartedly, joyfully. As you get older, you’ll learn how to fake this.

7. The secret of writing is rewriting. The secret of living is to see your mistakes and learn how to either correct them or conceal them.

8. It is nice to dream, but the urge to perform is not in itself an indication of talent.

9. You can’t live life all at once so take it one day at a time, and if you need drama, read Dickens. The lust for world domination does not make for the good life. The urge to be No. 1 is a bad urge. Charisma is an illusion and brilliance depends on who’s writing the test. Go for the bronze.

10. Life is short and it’s getting shorter. On the other hand, never buy cheap shoes.

(written by Garrison Keillor, from the Tanglewood program bulletin, July 2006)


R.A. said...

garrison keillor is great. if you ever get the chance, go see a live show; well worth it.

some people just have that talent to say very profound things in very few words.

my favorite is this: "Charisma is an illusion and brilliance depends on who's writing the test"!!!

good stuff, and it makes me think of the freaking GRE...

thanks for the link by the way!

LKB said...

RA - We actually have attended a live show (and live radio broadcast) twice. Of course, we had lawn seats so were far away, but still the energy was there.

I am looking to take the GRE again, any tips? I took it in 1995, but if I want to go back I have to take it again. Argh.


loveOliver said...


Austin is changing. The huge growth it has seen in the past 7 years has seen an economic upturn and a call for a more "urban," "modern," "bigger-city" Austin. At the same time, the ongoing call to "Keep Austin Weird" has grown even stronger. It's very mixed up.

We are seeing large urban development and a larger number of creative people living in Austin. In the art world, Austin has no footing and is not known for art. Frankly, artists cannot survive in Austin making art, but yet there are a lot of artists here.

There are a few small groups that would like to see a strong, sustainable art scene in Austin. Not yet organized, we share the same core goals. In the near future, I'll be participating in ways to help get that ball rolling.


P.S. - Austin's still awesome.