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I love the pithy proverb – Volume 7

My love for the short and to-the-point adage comes from my grandmother, who died 42 years ago on this week. Known to favor sayings such as “The graveyard is full of folks who thought the world couldn’t get along without them,” Grandmother Brown had a big influence on my life as well as my love for words.

Late in 2019, a series of pithy proverbs — those bursts of truth in 20 words or so — debuted on the blog and were brought together in a post entitled More to Consider.* Four years later I’m still at it. Let’s look at I love the pithy proverb — Volume 7 to see what made it to the More to Consider segment over the past six months.

Remember what’s really important

Omaha Beach, Normandy
Omaha Beach, Normandy

The horrific and life-threatening injury to pro-football player Damar Hamlin last week pointed to the many problems plaguing today’s NFL, not the least of which is that the NFL apparently wanted to restart the game after a five-minute break but was stopped by players acting in solidarity.

I don’t watch pro football (see here, here, and here). Nonetheless, it is a good time to for all of us to recall the great reminder from longtime Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy:

No game is a must-win. World War II was a must-win.

Marv Levy

Look to the past to understand the present and build a better future

David McCullough at work from his Facebook page.

Besides a fondness for words, Grandmother nurtured my love of history and reading. She would have agreed with David McCullough — the esteemed historian who died in August — on why history is important.

A sense of history is an antidote to self-pity and self-importance.

David McCullough

Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.

Harry S Truman

Of course, not every story in our memory — especially those we tell on ourselves — is historic. Or even true!

Some of those stories might be true, but most of them probably aren’t. I get better every year. That’s the one good part about getting old.

Football legend Otto Graham

Do what you say and love what you do

Tool by free pictures from Pixabay

Many people — obscure and famous alike — have commented on the importance of a meaningful vocation in our lives.

What one does is what counts, not what one had the intention of doing.

Pablo Picasso

It is the lucky person who gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor, knows what they are about to do, and thinks it still matters.

Joseph R. Biden, Sr., father to President Joe Biden

A vocation is a conversation between our physical bodies, our work, our intellects and imaginations.

David Whyte

Our human task is to acknowledge the fullness of things

This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324, captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope. Image Credit: (NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

The fullness of life is something that philosophers, theologians, and queens (apparently) think about all the time.

The edge of things is a liminal space—a holy place or, as the Celts called it, “a thin place.” Most of us have to be taught how to live there.

Richard Rohr

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.

An Aboriginal proverb quoted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011

Life is about discovering the right questions more than having the right answers.

Richard Rohr

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Crossed fingers by Peter Timmerhuse at Pixabay

Maya Angelou famously suggested that people will show us who they are, if we only pay attention. In today’s world we have seen too many on the political right who are showing us again-and-again that they simply don’t want to try and understand the truth, whether it be because of power, money, fear, or the convenience of a crutch.

There is none so blind as those who will not see.

John Heywood

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.

James Baldwin

[Humanity’s] capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but [humanity’s] inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

Reinhold Niebuhr

There is a better way. The late Senator Paul Wellstone lived his life showing us of his belief in the power of democracy to support the common good.

We all do better when we all do better.

Paul Wellstone

An attitude of gratitude

Grandmother and Granddaddy Brown on their wedding day (Brown family archives)

Grandmother believed in saying thank you, as it helped instill an attitude of gratitude, understanding that we all depend on others. And as a Bible-believing Baptist, she certainly quoted Jesus of Nazareth just about every day.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus of Nazareth

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all others.


I’ll leave you with my personal pithy proverb, which is life rule #1:

Be grateful. Be thankful. Be compassionate. Every day.

More to come…


*To capture some of my favorite sayings I created a feature on More to Come that I labeled “More to Consider.” I update these quick bursts of truth every couple of weeks. After the initial More to Consider post pulling together the first group highlighted, I brought out Volume 2: A plethora of pithy proverbs followed with Volume 3: A profusion of pithy proverbs and Volume 4: A plentitude of pithy proverbs. I finally turned to the Super Bowl system (minus the pretentious Roman numerals) with I love the pithy proverb — Volume 5 and Volume 6.

Image of drinking glasses from Pixabay.


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. crockermdgmailcom says

    Love this one David! We certainly were blessed by our grandparents.


    • Yes, Debbie, our grandparents certainly provided great foundations (along with common sense).

      • I sent an article in the Washington Post by Sally Jenkins – The breathtaking violence of an ordinary NFL hit (probably behind a paywall) – to my friend Ed, thinking he would enjoy seeing of the work of Tim Gay, who went to prep school with Bill Belichick at Phillips Academy Andover, where Ed and his wife Ruth taught for a number of years. Ed responded quickly to my note with the following:

        “Thank you for this Washington Post piece on Tim Gay’s work. I would have missed it, without your sending it, even though I am a Washington Post subscriber which enabled me to hop over the paywall.

        Yes, I’ve heard of Tim Gay, but never had the chance to meet him. He and Bill were c. ’70 at Andover, so we got there too late, (Fall 1973) to see either of them around campus. Ernie Adams was another close friend of Bill’s, and he I did meet briefly. Maybe you’ve heard of David Halberstam’s 2006 book on Belichick, “The Education of a Coach.”

        Tim Gay’s mention of a baby orca at Sea World is hard to forget, as well as the bowling ball from 12 feet above our heads.

        David, I know I’ve said this more than once, but we love your More to Comes. You are enriching many readers’ lives including ours, and Ruth & I are in awe of your Renaissance powers of observation.

        Ed Q.”

        What a very kind message from someone I really admire.

  2. Pingback: January observations | More to Come...

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