August 18, 2017

About my Aphorisms

An aphorism? What’s that?

The first time I saw that word, I thought, ‘Gosh, that’s a thousand-dollar word!’ Such an unusual and fancy word. I had no idea what it meant.

I went right to my dictionary. The definition turned out to be simple. You may know it. If you don’t, I’ll spare you the trouble of going to a dictionary as I had to do.

An aphorism is a simple statement about a truth of some kind or a feeling. It’s saying something important in as few words as possible, and in a way that will make you enjoy it.

Mark Twain was a master at composing aphorisms. I’ve used a gem of his at the very start of my book. “Travel is fatal to prejudice.” It is so true! I simply had to include it.

I enjoy writing maxims myself.  I’ve tucked many into my book. In fact, one at the end of every chapter. Whenever I had a bit of room.

Here’s one of them.

The difference between a stranger and a friend may be saying a simple hello.

And here’s another.

A good trip opens the mind by casting doubt on old notions.”

How I came to write them was unusual. In fact, extraordinary.

I was at a Sunday afternoon concert with milady Annabelle at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. It’s just a few miles from where I live, and we attend concerts there whenever we can.

The Academy is the Coast Guard’s proud version of the Navy’s Annapolis. It has a beautiful campus, on a hill above the broad Thames River. The Coast Guard Band is a superb group, with top-notch musicians. It performs full-scale concerts of classical and popular music, to full houses, both at the Academy and on the road, at venues all over the country and sometimes beyond. Its musicians have varied musical interests. They are encouraged to indulge their special interests in a jazz group, a chamber group, and other groups. These groups perform at public concerts at the Academy, and at times outside.

This day’s concert featured a chamber music group, and attendance was sparse, sad to say, but we weren’t surprised. We sat alone in the first balcony with milady Annabelle, with a good view of the stage. To me concerts are much more than an auditory pleasure. They’re a visual pleasure. So exciting to watch the musicians at their art. So much beauty in their synchronized movements. The lights dimmed and the music began. Beautiful. Marvelous. The musicians were in high form.

Suddenly an idea came to me. It was about traveling. Not surprising. I was writing my book, and the book dominated my subconscious. I felt I must preserve the idea. Ideas can be so fleeting. I groped and found my pad and pen. I jotted it down. It was so dark that it was hard to see what I was writing.

What was the inspiration I was so intent on saving? “Break bread with a stranger and you may get up with a new friend.” Yes, I liked that thought. It was an aphorism! Then I had another. And another. It was all so exciting. By the end of the concert I had 30 of them. How can I explain something so remarkable? The mystical power of music! Later, as I reviewed them, I got the idea of including them in my book. Yes, I tweaked them a bit. I hope you will enjoy them, and maybe find an insight that will inspire you.

Here are two more for you.

~~  If you’re not making your life an adventure, you’re short-changing yourself.

~~ On the road, you may make someone happy by handing him a dollar. Very nice. The better pay-off may be greater if you hand him a bit of praise or encouragement instead.

All the others await you in the book. I hope you’ll enjoy these little extras of mine.

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