The Next Page / Memo to: Grandchildren. Re: Life

After his life was saved by air bags and serendipity, Ray Werner got to thinking: What wisdom can I write down for the kids?

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WHAMMMM. And life is nearly snatched away. WHOOOSH. Instead it's snatched out of thin air, saved by air bags.

After the initial shock, and grabbing two grandkids safely strapped, thank God, like me, in their car seats, I was hit once more -- by the irony of still being able to breathe the same air that filled those bags. A few hours later, as I lay trapped like a large dying fish on a gurney in a trauma II emergency room, doctors huddled around my CAT scan to decide if I needed life-saving surgery. It was touch and go, and could have been no go, had the air bags not deployed.

All I could think of was what I should have told my grandkids, all of them, when I had the chance. And now, this. Should I ask the surgeon, last minute, for pen and paper?

Then, a blessing -- the scan showed minimal internal bleeding and no broken bones -- and I went home the next day to heal, humbled by the experience. With a chest that felt like I had been blindsided by Troy Polamalu.

But I kept thinking of what I should say to my grandchildren, now that I have a second chance. I remembered the words of my mother -- that "something good comes from everything." She was never wrong.

So I jotted down some other aphorisms (look it up) for you -- Hannah, Jack, Charlie and Lilli.

You might think it's a lot of hot air. But you might also find something that sticks. These are gathered from my parents, my siblings, my imagination, my experiences and my observations and reading. Ready?

ARROGANCE is a blindfold on your talent and makes you deaf to the wisdom of those who believe in your brilliance.

BELITTLING OTHERS for a laugh makes you the brunt of your own joke.

TO MOCK YOUR CHILDREN is to make them the heirs of an idiot.

DON'T BE FOOLED into believing you really understand others when you never really understand yourself.

EACH TIME you put yourself above you bring yourself down.

IT'S TRUE YOUR REACH should exceed your grasp, even if you have to keep hanging on for dear life.

THERE IS AN INEVITABLE DISCOMFORT of always being in the company of those who make us comfortable.

SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER to take someone by the hand than push them in the right direction.

THE ABILITY TO FORGIVE is one of life's great accomplishments.

IF YOU WANT TO RID yourself of anger, take it out on yourself.

DON'T EVER THINK you don't make a difference. Every time you walk into a room, you change the environment of that room, the tone of the conversation, the personality of the discussion.

TOO MANY PUT THEMSELVES at the top before they put in the work to get there.

NO MATTER HOW OLD you are, you can still dig up the gifts you buried as a child.

SOMETIMES GOD SENDS US something to slow us down so that we can do more with the time we have.

NOTHING HAPPENS until someone gets excited.

WHEN YOU HAVE TO COME FROM BEHIND, it's an advantage that can put you in the lead.

IF YOU GO THROUGH LIFE looking for loopholes, you just might fall into one you'll never get out of.

A CHILD'S SMILE is the light that goes on in life's darkest moments.

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE MOMENTUM. So if you get out while the going is good, you could miss out when the going gets better.

THE POOR SHOULD BE PAID something for their perseverance, because sometimes that's about all they have.

REMEMBER that all of your defeats can be wiped out with one victory.

HOW GREEN ARE YOUR VALLEYS? When you're down, look around. Lush meadows, gorgeous wild flowers, a gentle brook and plenty of joy and opportunity are at the foot of that mountain you're about to climb.

BEWARE OF GREED. It grows quickly and dies with the first frost.

IMPROVE SOMEONE'S LIFE just a little and it pays dividends for a lifetime.

YOU LEAVE YOUR FINGERPRINTS on everything you touch.

THERE'S A FIRST TIME for everything, unless you have the good sense to first stop and think.

LIFE IS NOT MEASURED in years but in moments.

PUT SOME DIVERSITY in your life. Having friends of all colors is like living under a rainbow.

SOLITUDE is a precious commodity. Grab a little every day.

THE TRUE MEASURE of your success is the quality of your relationships.

COMING UP WITH A GOOD IDEA is just turning over stones. Whoever turns over the most stones has the best chance of finding one.

A LOT OF LIFE'S MAGIC happens when you bring people together.

I'VE OFTEN BEEN ASKED the secret of being creative. Here it is:

Just plain hard work.

IF YOU BELIEVE you're being stubborn for the right reason, the real reason may be you're not listening.

MAKE THE MOST of others lives and you'll make the most of your own.

PUSH YOURSELF to the brink and sooner or later you'll fall off it.

NEVER FORGET where you come from. It will help you get to where you're going.

WISDOM IS NOT A GIFT. It's acquired. So talk to old people. Ask them anything. They have no agenda and will give it to you straight.

BE WARY OF BEING A CYNIC. They have a keen wit, but often at the expense of someone's reputation, and can take the heart out of anything that's good.

THERE SHOULD NEVER be a year in your life you don't make new friends.

NURTURE your spiritual side. Belonging to a church or synagogue enriches you with a loving, supportive community.

BE A GOOD CITIZEN. This is the greatest country in the world.

WITHOUT BALANCE, you fall down. So make sure you have some. Explore, question, dive in, participate; then cherish and savor what you discover.

STAY FIT. Two of the best exercises -- push yourself away from the table and walk away from that flat screen TV.

NOT EVERYONE CAN BE A PIONEER. But you can have a pioneering spirit. Without good followers, there would be no great religions in the world.

READ EVERY DAY. Everything you can get your hands on.

AND one of the best ways to end something you've written is to just stop.

opinion_commentary - intelligencer

Ray Werner, a former advertising executive, is a writer, playwright and bread-maker who lives in Point Breeze ( First Published September 2, 2012 4:00 AM


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