Sci-Fi Father Credited For New Years Wisdom

I rarely write a column these days. Too many other demands on my time have come with technology like podcasts, social media, reader engagements, newsletters – well you get the idea! But there are a few times a year, I really want to take a minute or two to chat with all of you, the reason why I do what I do.

This holiday season and the arrival of another uncertain New Year have been particularly emotional – wanting everything to be perfect, knowing it won’t, hoping next year will be a year of health and security, no fear and pandemic. Add to that an almost complete turnover of the features staff – people I consider family – and I’ve been in dire straits for several weeks now.

During those hours in the middle of the night I can’t sleep, we worry about everything, two things keep me sane: cross stitch and old friends – in this case, those found in books, who were my first only child companions. Among the names that appear regularly is that of Robert Heinlein, the father of science fiction, whose approach to life has influenced so many of my attitudes about so many things.

For many years, I turned to Heinlein for my New Year’s “resolutions”. Longtime readers of this journal should know these words by heart, as I have reprinted them here several times over many years and through many incarnations. Heinlein almost certainly did not consider extracts from the notebooks of his most famous character, Lazarus Long, of “resolutions.” He denied that they were wisdom, for that matter. But what he wrote in “Time Enough for Love” (1973) is better than anything I could imagine for myself.

So with the hat off to the late Mr. Heinlein, who is hopefully swollen in a bar somewhere in Boondock with Gene Roddenberry, I give you these words borrowed from living as a tough year unfolds in a that we can only hope is so much better!

Of course, the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet you can’t win.

Always listen to the experts. They will tell you what cannot be done and why. Then do it.

The delusions are often functional. A mother’s opinions on beauty, intelligence, kindness, etc. of her children, ad nauseam, prevent her from drowning them at birth.

A generation that ignores history has neither past nor future.

If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love other people.

Avoid making irrevocable decisions when you are tired or hungry. (Circumstances can force your hand. So think carefully!)

A wife is not property, and husbands who think otherwise live in a dream world.

A human should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, slaughter a pig, pilot a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, lay a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, throw in manure, program a computer, cook a good meal, fight effectively, die valiantly. The specialization is for insects.

The more you love, the more you can love – and the more intensely you love. There’s also no limit to how many you can like.

Shamans keep talking about their “miracles” made from snake oil. I prefer the real McCoy, a pregnant woman.

A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.

You live and learn. Or you don’t live long.

The phrase “we (I) (you) just have to -” refers to something that does not need to be done. “It goes without saying” is a red warning. “Of course” means you better check it out yourself. These small change shots and the like, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.

Always tell her that she is beautiful, especially if she is not.

Sovereign ingredient for a happy marriage: Pay cash or do without. Interest charges not only eat into a household budget, but the awareness of indebtedness eats away at domestic bliss.

Another ingredient for a happy marriage: budget for luxury first!

And yet another: make sure she has her own office, so don’t touch it!

And another: in a family dispute, if it turns out that you are right, apologize immediately!

Keep your kids short of pocket money, but slow to cuddle.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

Sin lies only in hurting others needlessly. All other “sins” are invented nonsense. (Hurt yourself isn’t a sin – just stupid.)

Amen, my brother! And happy New Year!

Becca Martin-Brown is an award-winning columnist and editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She can be reached at bmartin@nwadg.com or on Twitter @nwabecca.

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