Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

“People are like chicken poop.” Said Will Rogers, never.

One of Will Rogers most famous quotes was about people and how, no matter what, he liked ‘em.  Ask just about anyone about the American humorist and entertainer and they’ll cite his best-remembered quote as, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” But, that wasn’t his whole statement.  In its entirety, what he really said was, “I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.”  Words to live by.  And be remembered by.  Mr. Rogers said that it was that phrase, above all else, that he was proud of, and wanted it to be his epitaph.

An adopted kid, I learned about my Native American heritage when I was 13 years old and from that point on, I used to fantasize that I was somehow related to Will Rogers, who was also part Cherokee and named after William Penn Adair, a prominent Cherokee leader.  Will Rogers’ keen observations and simple logic about human nature appealed to me and made more sense than just about any other line of reasoning I’d ever heard from a pulpit, lectern or in front of a chalkboard.  In regards to education he said, “A man only learns by two things, one is reading, and the other is association with smarter people.”  Well, that made a whole lot of sense to me.  Having lived in a chaotic household for the first dozen plus years of my life, I went out and found the smartest, kindest people I could, whose examples I could follow and then supplemented that with a steady diet of books.  It was common sense of the highest order.  One can never stop learning if you want to grow and understand one another.  It is where compassion grows.

Oh, but you have to be careful.  Because smart people aren’t always the best of individuals and Will managed to sum that up mighty nicely, too: “Villains are getting as thick as college degrees and sometimes on the same fellow.”  One has to be cautious when it comes to the business of people.  You don’t want to be sold a bill of goods, so you have to keep your wits about you.  It is one thing to like a man, but a whole other bag of snakes to trust him.

The other day, I told someone I love how much I like them (because, you and I both know… they don’t always go together); how very happy I am that they are my friend; and how much I trust them.  They responded with, “Oh.  You say that about EVERYbody.”  Uhm. Not so much.  I do know an awful lot of people, but I’m not yet as magnanimous as Will Rogers.  People are complex, but I do try to think of them like that anecdotal room of manure, where the optimistic kid frantically digs at the pile saying, “There’s just GOT to be a pony in here, somewhere!”  Big ol’ biped bags of Bandini fertilizer, that’s how I think of some folks.  I have to believe that some kind of good will grow, just like plants nourished with guano, worm castings or chicken poop, no matter how nasty or unpleasant they are.

Mostly, I’ve liked just about every person I have ever met, out of the thousands over the course of my lifetime.  In fact, there are only about 4 or 5 people (whose names are on a dark sheet of paper, never to be revealed in the light of day) that I don’t.  It’s a constant learning curve this liking people thing, but at least I’m trying.

At the end of my day, I’d sort of like those words of Will Rogers, or some variation of that, to be my epitaph.  I really do hope to spend all of the days of my life trying to find likeable qualities in every person I ever lock eyes with.  In fact, I’m also going to try and live by another set of his words that I love: “Get all the good laughs you can” because as he wisely pointed out, “Most men are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Just don’t be surprised if I joke about it, and the people I meet, along the way.  It’s all in good fun.  And I’ll only do so… if I like ya.


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