Some of my friends have become grumpy old men. As I have aged, and they with me, I think I understand it.
When we’re older and wiser, it becomes harder and harder to suffer foolishness and immaturity. Hours and minutes become more precious.
It occurred to me, we are lucky and blessed to know men with such wisdom.
So I polled some of our senior writers. I asked them:
“In three short paragraphs, tell me your words of wisdom to the world. What have you learned about life, and what has made you so wise?”
Following, slightly edited, are the responses from these learned men. Each has made a significant contribution to conservation and the great outdoors.
I met Bill back in the early ‘80s. He was the outdoor editor of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, and I have learned much from him over the years.
Whether you live in the country or the suburbs or the heart of the city, find a quiet place for a few minutes. Feel the breeze on your cheek, listen to the patter of rain on the summer leaves, see and feel the change in the air of spring or fall, experience the total silence of a winter snowfall.
Then, simply say “THANKS!”
I met John only months ago at a writers conference at Kentucky Lake. He became an immediate contributor to the magazine.
I don’t think I have gotten particularly wise, but I can say I have learned something. And I can be quite succinct. A few years ago, I learned that I was not in charge, God was. I learned I was not running the show making the decisions, He was. And, perhaps of most benefit, was understanding if there is nothing I can do about a problem, I could just turn it over to Him and move on.
Joel was one of my original mentors. He helped form the Missouri Outdoor Communicators decades ago and has been a writer for Outdoor Guide since its beginning.
I have been accused of being a wise guy, but that’s light years away from being wise. If I’ve learned anything at all in 83 years, it is that even another 83 years would not begin to let me experience all the things I would want to know and that I should know.
Anyone who loses the desire to do better at whatever he or she tries has lost the one essential trait for success – and success does not equate with great wealth or anything insubstantial. Success is never accepting “good enough” as good enough.
Above all, avoid hypocrisy. You’re not nearly as good as you think you are. What you want inscribed on your gravestone is, “He did the best he could,” not “He wasn’t nearly as good as he thought he was.”
Outdoor Editor for the Kansas City Star for 36 years, Brent started writing for us a couple years ago and currently is president of the Missouri Outdoor Communicators.
Man often boasts of his conquest of the wild world, but it is false bravado.
Nature is in charge, and I have come to accept that. A man may catch a 10-pound bass one day and proclaim that he has it all figured out, but the fish will surely humble him the next day.
That’s the way it works in nature. She is a fickle character, full of mystery and intrigue. But that’s what I love about her.
As I advance to my golden years, my body is showing wear and tear, but my spirit remains young. I always come back to see what the wild will present me the next time out.
Darrell has written for Outdoor Guide since its start in the early ‘90s. A past president of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), he has done much to help young outdoor journalists over the years.
We are a product of the people, places and events that surround us from the day we are born. I was fortunate to grow up in northeastern Missouri on small farms where hard work and low incomes were a way of life.
Because of that, we made good use of the land and what it produced for food. At a very early age, I learned chores came first, then hunting and fishing.
I’ve often said, “I wouldn’t trade the way I grew up for anything, but I would never want to live that way again.”
Jim just started writing for Outdoor Guide. Nationally known, Jim exudes wisdom, and he is not bashful in telling you what he knows.
I’m not at all sure I have any words of wisdom (some who know me might well suggest that wisdom and yours truly are rank strangers), but here are some thoughts.
Time has taught me to savor the moment, revere the past, and be ever mindful of the fact that in the school of the outdoors, there is no graduation day.
Any wisdom I may have learned is the product of having had enough sense to listen to my “mountain smart” paternal grandfather as a boy, having been blessed with a stern but loving father who was an avid outdoorsman and a fine amateur naturalist, and growing up with a veritable host of honorary aunts and uncles, black and white, who took me in to raise.
I’m sufficiently long in the tooth and sparse in the hackle to realize that mine has been a marvelous life, and much of that derives directly from the fact that it has been lived close to the good Earth – hunting and fishing, walking and wandering, gardening to grow much of what graced the family table, and generally trying to achieve something approaching oneness with the natural world.
Thayne is my original mentor in the outdoors industry. We met at a SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades) show almost 30 years ago. Papa Thayne is always eager to share what he has learned about life.
Lessons in life were a part of everyday living when I was a youngster, and I think I learned them well. The youngest of nine children (now the only survivor), I had loving but stern parents and seven brothers to lead and guide me through most of my years. They taught me respect and obedience of parents, family, friends and elders.
Others helped set the stage for my chosen career as a journalist. It started with a first-grade teacher (no kindergarten in those days) who encouraged my love of the three Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic). Many others helped when I struggled through tough courses in schools and college. Another was my Boy Scout leader who served as the minister that baptized me.
Studying and admiring the works of masters, including many among my peers, may be the crown jewel of my longevity.
Larry’s contribution to youth and conservation is legendary. A friend and partner to Johnny Morris, his words are highly sought. I consider him a true blood brother.
Webster’s definition of wisdom is knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life, and at my age I have certainly had that. Wisdom also comes from learning from your mistakes.
Webster also says wisdom comes from the teachings of the ancient wise men. I have learned much from writings of men like Aldo Leopold, John Muir and others. I love to use their quotes and the quotes of our “first conservationists,” the native American Indians, in my writings and radio broadcasts.
Randall’s ramblings are sometimes outrageously funny. Makes me think he gained his wisdom over the years, the hard way.
This is what I’ve learned and thus has transformed me into an Outdoor Sage … third class.
Always set exciting goals, be positive and aim high. If you fall short, you’ll likely still hit the target. I do this all the time when trap-shooting.
Keep in mind, dispensing sage advice is like making turkey stuffing – a little sage goes a long way. Use it sparingly for maximum effect. You’ll want to be remembered as an old bird that didn’t leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.
Finally, carry a Meerschaum corncob pipe. One doesn’t necessarily have to smoke it, but when clinched in the teeth, anything spoken is regarded as deep wisdom steeped in vast experience – especially when it comes to catfishing, coonhounds, and wild turkeys.
I am sure you, too, have thoughts to share with the world. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish them in upcoming issues of Outdoor Guide Magazine. Next issue, we will hear from the wise women of the outdoors.