The 2000 Year Old Man: Wise Beyond His Years

The 2000 Year Old Man: Wise Beyond His Years

People like to give advice. Sometimes these words of wisdom are good, sometimes they're not so good, and sometimes they are just terrible.

But the wisest words of all are those which come back to you again time after time after time. You do something, or something happens to you, and there's that voice from the past, reminding you of the wisdom of the person who gave you those words to live by.

They might have been spoken by a special teacher, a friend, or a parent. Sometimes they are words you heard from a public figure or celebrity - meaningful thoughts that will seem applicable many times throughout your life.

And sometimes those words come from a comedy routine. A classic comedy routine.

Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks were writers together on NBC's Your Show Of Shows in the 1950s. To pass the time at work, Reiner would act as an interviewer - the straight man to Brooks's 2000 year old man. They performed their shtick at parties, always to rave reviews.

Then, in 1960, Steve Allen convinced them to record the best routines and release it for public consumption. Reiner and Brooks recorded several collections of these routines through the years, many of which were memorized by rabid fans.

I've always liked the poem Brooks recited in the "sand language" ... Nog, nog, mekellen bebog, valuch matuch, maluch metag, which fans will know translates into English as "Beans, beans, the musical fruit ... "

But a different line has stuck with me for decades, and seems like one of the wisest things I've ever heard said:

"We mock the thing we are to be"

Every month or so I'll do something that I remember my father (or some other relative) used to do and which I probably laughed at and I remember:

"We mock the thing we are to be"

Or I'll see one of my kids doing something they used to laugh about when I did it during their youth, so I remind them:

"We mock the thing we are to be"

Sometimes I'll find myself wondering why an older friend or relative is doing some seemingly silly thing, and I'll hear Mel Brooks reminding me not to make too much fun:

"We mock the thing we are to be"

It's amazing how many times this one-liner from a comedy album has been proven true. Not only is the Mel Brooks character, the 2000 year old man, the oldest man alive.  He might also be the wisest.

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This post was written as part of ChicagoNow's monthly "Blogapalooz-Hour" challenge. Click here to learn more and see what words of wisdom resonate with other ChicagoNow bloggers.

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