Say it with Sayings

In a recent quiz we were challenged to think of twenty well known proverbs; fine you might think! If we weren’t under the pressure of having to come up with them to save our team’s honour against other collections of humanity it would be fine. As it was we were struggling big time.

We could come up with three straight away and then all went blank. I don’t want to blame age as a the main cause of our unfruitfulness but it does seem to be a recurring theme these days as we rush our way towards fifty not out. The memory loss is one thing but the propensity to be easily distracted is another.

Our first two proverbs caused me the most problem in this respect. ‘Two many cooks spoil the broth’ and ‘Many hands make light work’. I couldn’t help pondering how such seemingly simplistic proverbs could be so diametrically opposed. With these two sayings we are faced with a serious problem when it comes to soup making; either we suffer the consequence of having too much staff in the kitchen and consume sub-standard minestrone, or we find it to be such hard work due to lack of help that we become too exhausted to eat it.

When we finally got going with our quiz answers we were faced with other contradictory problems. How am I supposed to believe that I am ‘never to old to learn’ if at the same time it is impossible to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’. This never seemed to be problem when I was younger but now it has a certain poignancy.

When I was in my twenties I was happy to try new things living by the spirit of the youthful saying ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Now, however, it appears that the power of this saying has been reduced by the fact that is ‘better to be safe than sorry’.

I turned to my team mates and asked them if they felt a similar amount of confusion at this point; after all we were joined together because we had much in common, as if confirming the truism ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Nobody else shared my concern leaving me to feel slightly excluded until one of our group pointed out that ‘opposites attract’; thus proving my point. I think perhaps I am at the age where I should make up my own proverbs that fit with my midlife status. Try these:

‘Whatever hair you lose on you head grows in your ears and nose’

‘If it is not on the shopping list it doesn’t get bought’

‘Pastry can only be eaten once a week’

‘If you wear that style of clothes long enough it will eventually come back in fashion’

This one is important because after all ‘clothes maketh the man’ although, come to think of it you shouldn’t ‘judge a book by its cover’ so it doesn’t matter after all. Confused! I think we should let sleeping dogs lie.

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