The Meaning of Life: Esquire

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
Muhammad Ali (1942-), Esquire The Meaning of Life: Wisdom, Humor, and Damn Good Advice from 64 Extraordinary Lives, edited by Ryan D’Agostino, 2009

Esquire’s The Meaning of Life contains excerpts from a series of celebrity interviews done by Esquire correspondents, as well as some letters from readers of the magazine. Despite the title, none of the quotes really address the meaning of life. Surprise, surprise. There are a few comments on how to live life, and a few on religion too. But these more pithy comments are few and far between, buried within the copious drivel filling this book.

First, some sound advice on how to live your life:

Children teach you that you can still be humbled by life, that you learn something new all the time. That’s the secret to life, really – never stop learning. It’s the secret to career. I’m still working because I learn something new all the time. It’s the secret to relationships. Never think you’ve got it all. 
Clint Eastwood (1930-)

A good education and a kind heart will get you through life in pretty good shape.
Alex Trebek (1940-)

Hey, if celebrities don’t know this stuff, who does? Of course, such advice takes on much more authority once the celebrity dies. As a rule of thumb, dead celebrities are wiser than live celebrities.

A few people address the subject of the afterlife:

Heaven is a place you can go and drink a lot of draft beer and it don’t make you fat. You can cheat on your wife and she don’t get mad. You get a beautiful female chauffeur with nice, hard tits – real ones. There are motorcycle jumps you never miss. You don’t need a tee time.
Evel Knievel (1938-2007)

I guess everyone has their own personal concept of heaven. In Knievel’s heaven “hard tits” are real tits. Talk about squaring the circle. Or perhaps he had a thing for mannequins. Or female robot chauffeurs. Maybe it’s best not to dig too deep here…

It’s unequivocally clear that life begins at birth and ends at death. And if most of the people on this planet understood that, they would lead their lives very differently. We always try to find religious or mysterious forces to fill in for our inadequacies, but heaven and hell are both here on earth every day, and we make our lives around them.
J. Craig Venter (1946-)

J. Craig Venter has sequenced the human genome, created a synthetic cell, and is now trying to create synthetic life. Sounds like he has a bit of a god complex. Despite his enthusiasm for creating artificial life, his advice on real life is sound.

I like who I am, and while I’ll make mistakes, if I don’t get into heaven because of what I believe, then that’s not the place I want to be.
Chris Head, Seattle, Washington, letter to Esquire

Even non-celebrities know something true and useful. Who knew?

Some have pointed comments on religion:

Religion is in many ways like a good pair of shoes. It gives support, a little bit of a lift in your days, and it separates us from the other animals. But personally, I prefer to go barefoot.
Gordon Hatherley, Lake Station, Indiana, letter to Esquire

There are many different religions in this world, but if you look at them carefully, you’ll see that they all have one thing in common: they were invented by a giant, superintelligent slug named Dennis.
Homer Simpson (1987-), fictional character created by Matt Groening (1954-)

Yeah, right. Superintelligent? You expect me to believe that? Dennis the giant slug makes sense though…

Whenever I hear somebody’s in touch with God, I look for the exit.
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

And whenever I hear that God’s in touch with somebody, I look for the nearest straightjacket.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Religion is just another form of ideology:

The only thing that I am reasonably sure of is that anybody who’s got an ideology has stopped thinking.
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

I’ll leave you with another quote from that great Canadian, Alex Trebek. Who would have thought that a game show host could be so wise, so deep, so intelligent, so freakishly calm and unflappable? And now for Final Jeopardy!

Don’t tell me what you believe in. I’ll observe how you behave, and I will make my own determination.
Alex Trebek (1940-)

What is sensible?

This entry was posted in Belief, Death, Gods, Heaven, Hell, Life, Life & Death, Parodies, Reason, Religion, The Meaning of Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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