I was about to make a purchase.
Brimming with all the innocence of the thirteen-year-old in the eighth grade that I was, I eagerly handed over my $2.50 to the cashier at B Dalton Pickwick Books in Penninsula Center. This was the 1970s. There was no PC, Internet, or smartphone to keep me forever in my bedroom, refusing to go outside as if I was agoraphobic.
I fully welcomed the hilly two-and-a-half-mile bike ride from my parent’s house in Palos Verdes Estates to the outdoor mall in Rolling Hills Estates. My mom, dad, and I had just relocated from New Jersey, and going outside in sunny southern California was part of the reason we moved in the first place. Plus, it was just something to do. Back then, kids not only needed that, but they also sought it out nearly every day. While this appetite could lead to trouble, it was primarily wholesome and led to all sorts of good things.
One such good thing was my purchase of The Great Quotations – The Wit and Wisdom of the Ages. The bargain-bin paperback was compiled by George Seldes with over a thousand pages. Ten to fifteen quotes per page. An unimpressive soft cover design was only marginally offset by a Saturday Review blurb on the inside cover page saying, “The book demands its own space on your shelf!” Because I had $2.50 it The Great Quotations would soon be on my shelf.
I read The Great Quotations cover-to-cover coming across many beautiful and unfamiliar quotes. Over time this volume and the general course of my reading, I learned to love and seek out quotes. It made reading a bit like a treasure hunt. I would write my favorite quotes down, memorize them, and insert them into my conversations to sound more brilliant than I was. There is something extraordinary about quoting a well-crafted and relevant line, be it a speech or even a conversation.
I later learned that my then short and intense attention span, today called ADHD (as ADD didn’t make the DSM until 1980), made these short chunks of truth perfect for my particular hard wiring. Easy to remember, and doubt doubtless contributing to my love and study of Philosophy in college are fueled by all the great aphorisms found within that discipline. Profundity, humor, and
“The unexamined life is not worth living!” is a great one attributed to Socrates by Plato in The Apology. When I was a high school sophomore first coming across it, I thought up what I thought to be a witty retort, “The overexamined life isn’t worth living either!” My comment didn’t catch on.
On page 917 of The Great Quotations, I found the quote and blog namesake, “Tell the Truth and Run.”
I had never come across this quote before. The attribution in The Great Quotations was “Annonymous: Yugoslav proverb.” Maybe that is why I never heard it?
When I read the passage the first time, it made me laugh out loud. Clever. Ironic, a bit cynical, but undeniably insightful.
I wasn’t the only one to notice this quote among the thousands in Seldes compendium. A film that chronicles Seldes’s 104 years as an investigative journalist, foreign correspondent, editor, author, and media critic, is titled, wait for it, Tell the Truth and Run.
So this blog is about those topics that are hard to articulate but worthy of a go. And, be forewarned, that diminishing speck off into the horizon, that may be me running.