“We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer in someway, more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.” Louis L’Amour.
I thought of this quote today when I heard that Andy Rooney was hospitalized at 92 with serious complications after minor surgery. He has been my personal favorite of all the wise people in the world ready to share their knowledge on TV. I sense that most of them have dreams of being famous, larger than life, wealthy and well known. I don’t know if they have taken the wrong way as Mr. L’Amour indicated. It certainly is the more popular way. They peek into people’s lives and interpret their actions and motivations and become famous for it.
Andy Rooney took a different path. He never appeared to be the kind of man who emphasized what he wanted to have. He appeared to be a sage- a humble& humorous sage who noticed and commented on what he saw. Since 1978 he was a regular presence on CBS’ 60 Minutes; “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” where he looked at the absurdities of life and language. He talked about everything. Current events or what happened in the course of an ordinary day. He won an Emmy Award for an essay about whether there really was a Mrs. Smith behind Mrs. Smith’s pies.
He didn’t pretend to be anything other than what he was. He was cranky at times and let it show. He also was rumored to hate being recognized on the street. So if you saw him in a restaurant, he said as he signed off once, “please: just let me eat my dinner”. He was doing this before the current crop of “in your face” TV personalities. He was unique. He told it like he saw it without apologies. He was not politically correct. He shared his opinion; his thoughts, his wisdom, his view of the world. He was a refreshing breeze. His last broadcast was the passing of an era. On October 2, 2011 he delivered his 1097th and final essay and said it was a moment he dreaded; “I wish I could do this forever. I can’t though”, he said. Me too; for it was the end of an era. With the passing of this icon I wondered who will show us how to poke fun at ourselves. Who will point out what is extraordinary in the ordinary on a weekly basis? Who will take the time to just chat about the idiosyncrasies of life? Or to even notice the little things that make life precious in this harried world we live in?
I would like to salute Andy Rooney with a collection of his famous quotes titled: “What I have learned”:
“That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person”.
“That just one person saying to me, you’ve made my day! makes my day.”
“That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world”.
“That being kind is more important than being right.”
“That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”
“ That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.”
I wish Mr. Rooney a speedy recovery and may he continue writing and sharing his gift with us for many more years.