Words to Live By, From George Carlin
Ever since George Carlin died this past June, I have been impressed by just how many people have openly admitted to liking his stand-up comedy, each sending me a favorite monologue or video from YouTube to watch and hopefully enjoy as much as they did. While perhaps best known for his censored “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine, Carlin amazed many with his wit, wisdom, and insight into mainstream America. His views on the aging process were no less thought-provoking and, I think, worthy of sharing with readers.
In one of his monologues, he wisely reports that, “The only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids. ‘I’m four and a half!’, says the young child talking proudly of his age. You’re never thirty-six and a half,” Carlin reminds us. Even his descriptions are funny, as he tells us we “become 21,” “turn 30,” “push 40,” “reach 50,” “make it to 60,” “hit 70,” “get into your 80s,” and so on.
Carlin’s monologue ends with his suggestion of “10 Ways to Stay Young”:
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay “them.”
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop and the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long, and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.
Good advice for us all to follow and share with our patients, families, and friends. Thank you, George. You will be remembered.
Dr. Gambert is Chairman, Department of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, and Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.
Send comments to Dr. Gambert at email@example.com