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Contradictory wisdom of the ages wrestles for sense

Burt's Eye View

Burton Cole

“Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life,” she said.

She was hinting that I should wear something besides my “air-conditioned” but comfortable sneakers with my 20-year-old suit. I don’t do well with hints.

“If Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly in the end, why did it fall off in the first place?” I asked.

She had no answer for that. Or at least not an answer that made any sense to me.

“Clothes make the man,” she said.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I retorted.

“You’re never too old to learn,” she said.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I howled.

Life is full of wise contradictions.

The great philosopher G.K. Chesterton once said, “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

Fortunately, pretty much all advice already comes fully equipped with exact opposites already installed.

The classic example is, “He who hesitates is lost,” vs. “Look before you leap.”

Basically, as the great philosopher Van Halen advised, “Might as well jump / Go ahead and jump.” But don’t blame us if a crocodile awaits with open mouth on the other side of the wall. We told you to look first.

If we wanted to put together a wrestling card full of awesome but easily negated advice, the match card would look like this: (Cue the great philosopher Michael Buffer: “Are you ready? Leeeeet’s get ready to ruummmmm-ble!”)

“Actions speak louder than words” vs. “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The best things in life are free” vs. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

• Tag team match: “Never give up” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” vs. “Don’t beat your head against a stone wall” and “Don’t beat a dead horse.” (Basically, just go back to bed.)

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” vs. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” vs. “Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it.”

• Tag team match:“Two heads are better than one” and “Many hands make light work” vs. “Paddle your own canoe” and “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” (So are we supposed to play well with others or not?)

“Haste makes waste” vs. “Time waits for no man.” (Or as my dad says the Army taught him, “Hurry up and wait.”)

• Handicap match: “Better safe than sorry” and “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” vs. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” vs. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

“Hitch your wagon to a star” vs. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” vs. “Silence is golden.”

“Morning shows the day” vs. “All’s well that ends well.”

“A miss is as good as a mile” vs. “Something is better than nothing.”

“Good things come to those who wait” vs. “Time and tide wait for no man.”

“A word to the wise is sufficient” vs. “Talk is cheap.”

“Great minds think alike” vs. “Fools seldom differ.”

I hope this helps you make all your important decisions today. Wear the comfy shoes.

— Advise Burton Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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