Biff America: Life Lama lessons (column)
“So I said, ‘Hey Lama, how about a little something … you know … for the effort?’
“The Lama says, ‘There will be no money, but when you die, on your death-bed, you will receive total consciousness.’”
So goes the signature dialog, in the classic film “Caddyshack.”
Carl Spackler, assistant greens keeper, played by Bill Murray, is bragging about when he caddied for the Dali Lama. After carrying the holy man’s bag for 18 holes, the Lama did not tip him. But instead of cash the Lama promised Spackler total consciousness/enlightenment at the time of his death.
Spackler surmised, “So I got that going for me; which is nice.”
I would guess total enlightenment at the time of your death would be better than nothing, but if I were to have a choice I’d prefer it a little earlier in life.
You often hear stories of someone’s life passing before their eyes at the time of a near-death experience. There are also tales of survivors seeing bright light and long dead family members before they are brought back to the land of the living. Once back, they often experience life changing revelations and offer profound declarations.
I have had a few close calls over the years — in vehicles, on bikes and on skis. I’ve had scares where I was spinning out of control, flying through the air or taking a ride in a snow slide, when I had the realization that I might not live through this. I can’t say my life ever flashed before my eyes and my only profound declaration was “Oh S*&t’!!!” I have also spent time with friends and family during their final days and even minutes. I am sorry to report that in them I witnessed no such clarity.
But what I have seen in abundance, and have even experienced to some degree, is the simple truth that with age comes wisdom.
I don’t think you necessarily get any smarter (I’d settle for less stupid) as you age, but believe with countless life experiences, trial and error and time-taught wisdom, you come closer to grasping what is meaningful and what is not.
“If I knew then what I know now …”
It is easy to look back at choices, decisions, even relationships of your past with the perspective of the present and wish you had the knowledge then that you have now.
Among other things, I wouldn’t have gotten married (on Martha’s Vineyard for God’s sakes!!!) while wearing a tie-dye shirt, cowboy boots and sporting a mullet haircut.
Below are just a few things I wish I had known as a young man:
No matter how much you think your parents mistreated you, they went into the parenting venture with good intentions. Most likely, they were doing the best they could given their mental, financial or genetic limitations.
Don’t give or award too much credit (or blame) for your’s or others’ circumstances, good or bad. Happiness and success, and the opposite of it, are a result of not so equal parts genetics, skills, effort and luck. You can have everything and still be miserable.
If you’re not friends you can’t be lovers … for long. (Though it can be fun practice until you meet that friend.)
Most women are attracted to a man who can make them laugh.
Men don’t know this so they do sit-ups.
There is no situation which cannot be improved by love and kindness or worsened by anger and alcohol. Except dancing, I dance better on whiskey.
A healthy relationship is composed of love, respect, desire and compromise. No mate will ever be totally compliant of all your needs. If she were you’d have to pay her.
What most of us condemn in others is what we dislike in ourselves. The people who condemn homosexuality are secretly curious.
Don’t be afraid to hug and give honest compliments; even to people who you know dislike you. (It really creeps them out.)
No one ever looked up from their death bed and said, “Damn, I wished I had worked more.” And you seldom see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.
Of course, if someone had told me all that stuff when I was in my 20s I would not have listened. And who knows, like Carl Spackler, there is still hope for some death-bed total consciousness. Perhaps I’ll finally be able to make some sense of that foolish mullet……
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or http://shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul
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