Old clichés, oxymorans and truisms all give us a bit of wisdom. Boy, sometimes do we need that! Often as we read or pass by signs with those clever sayings they hit a nerve, other times we just glance, read and go on. But, some just stick and cling, coming into our mind to give us thoughtful pause.

We all have our favorites. Many of the ones I remember came from the wisdom passed on by my parents, probably passed on by their parents. Now, as I try to think of some, they just won’t come, but give a situation where they fit and they just pop into your mind.

Sometimes it’s just a funny story that has some truth in it. Take this one I read years ago in the “Readers Digest.” A married couple was driving down the highway while the wife reminisced about how things used to be. She remarked that romance had gone out of their marriage as they no longer sit hip to hip in the driver’s seat. Her husband, the driver, wryly remarked, “Well, I’m not the one who moved.” I imagine that was an eye opener for the wife.

Cutting hair was always my job when our children were home. If you have ever cut someone’s hair you know that a wrong move or sudden position change may spell disaster in the results. As they got older when one of our children sit in the “barber’s chair” I would ask them “how do you want it cut.” When I asked this son he dryly remarked, “One mistake high.”

“Haste makes waste” was one I heard from my parents often. How true this is. Sometimes when you are in a hurry to accomplish something the speed just makes a mess of things. The harder you try the worse it gets. You either have to slow down or stand away until another time.

I thought this was a funny saying and was Albert Einstein’s explanation of relativity. “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

I like to quote this one to our children who are now raising teenagers themselves. “What goes around comes around,” indicating that, as parents, we experienced some of the same behaviors they are experiencing as parents of teens. And although we do support and encourage them, there is just this tiny, tiny little quirk in your mind that says “goody, goody.” After all we’re human.

I saw this one somewhere and it stuck as well. “Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn’t have said.” How often did this happen? Sometimes you would get it back in the same tone and inflection as you gave it.

My mother often quoted this one about me, “Still waters run deep.” It probably took me a few years to completely understand this one, but we all know that rushing water means shallow water flowing while still water is often much deeper and the current less noticeable. Mothers know us well.

If you have ever seen or heard the movie or book Pollyanna, you may remember how positive Pollyanna was and the results of that positivity. “There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.” It was her “glad” game. That positivity can make life a lot easier to live.

There’s another saying that goes “Every cloud has a silver lining.” It’s the same idea, there is always something good that comes along with the bad. You just have to look for that silver lining. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” is another that came from my parents. Maybe if we thought of this one oftener we would have less stuff in our closets.

With all the emphasis placed on youthful looks, this one makes a lot of sense. “ Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” I always like to think that I have just reached this age sooner than those who are younger. They’ll get there too if we give them a bit of time.

“Practice makes perfect,” is another good one for we never pick up a skill by just doing it once, for it takes a lot practice to perfect all skills. I saw this one on a church sign recently, “God didn’t promise smooth sailing, just a safe harbor.” It’s one of those that stuck as I read it. How true it is.

Then another Biblical phase says even more, “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.” We’ve all heard it said, know its meaning, but if you really think about its advice and wisdom, you soon realize how many of the world’s problems it would solve if we all followed its words.

Then there is an African proverb that goes something like this. “When faced with an unpleasant task it’s either a smile or a frown on your face that helps or hinders the work.” Why is it that smiles just make things go better? Certainly a light heart makes a task light as well.

There are so many of these little bits of wisdom floating around in our heads, sometimes we heed them sometimes we don’t. But they have all been voiced by people who have found the truth in their words and they have passed the wisdom on.


Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer’s daughter and now as a farmer’s wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.