Best Advice

by Amy Bloom

When I was 28 and already married for four years, I received advice on finding the right mate from my employer, Francis Ford Coppola: If you're thinking of marrying someone, don't. Take a trip with that person instead, preferably for a duration of at least six weeks and to a country where neither of you speaks the language. If the two of you can weather that kind of ordeal, you might have a shot at a marriage that endures. When I heard this advice, I thought of a trip my husband and I had taken in the first year of our relationship. It was a long journey around the U.S. in a VW bug and included parts of the country where it seemed that we did not speak the native tongue. When we began the trip, we were on the verge of breaking up. On our return home, we decided to move in together. A week ago, we celebrated our 30th anniversary.

I agree. I need to work on the "be happy" part and forget about those whom I feel have wronged me. But it's hard.

Plato got it right: Be kind, for every person you meet is fighting a hard battle.

My grandmother, Edna McNally Perry, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1912, baptized Elizabeth but called Edna after her brother Edward who died of scarlet fever (the second son to die), met Jack Perry when they were both fourteen, went to work at fifteen after her father’s death, put her sister through school, married, raised three children, worked at the hospital, the school, and the Carmelite cloister, cared for her elderly mother, lost her husband of fifty years two days before Christmas, died after six years of widowhood, at home, holding tight to a vial of Lourdes water, liked to say, “Always eat dessert.”

Oh, how I wish I'd read this two years ago. My girl will be leaving this summer for college and parts unknown and I sure wish I'd nagged her less, pardoned her more, and just let her be.

"Discretion is the better part of valor" - Falstaff, but more importantly, my mother. She was trying to teach me to think hard about jumping into an argument (just because you can win and it feels good in the moment doesn't mean it's worth the cost). As a recovering lawyer and mother reconnecting with my brain, I still find myself tempted sometimes. The last word. Or worse, the words you want to stuff back in your mouth when you see the look on your dear husband's face. I suppose I also think of that song "The Gambler" (know when to hold 'em, etc.). Country Western or Falstaff? It's all about the pause to reconsider. Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts. I truly enjoyed every one tonight.

The best advice was from my father, who said, "Make a a decision. You can always change your mind."

The best advice I ever got was from my father and I passed it on to my children: "Consider the source. ALWAYS consider the source."

From my dad when referring to a life well lived: "I have yet to meet the guy selling tickets for the second time around."

The best advice I got before embarking on the '60s came from the fellow who dropped in occasionally to dry out, and one day said, "My boy, the thing to know about 'everything in moderation' is that the key word is not 'moderation,' it is 'everything.' "

Edward Albee told me, "Make sure your theatre is cold and make sure your stage is well lit; people can't hear a play when they are hot, and they can't hear a play when they can't see it."

The best advice I ever received: "Be willing to lose the argument to find the truth." Winning the argument means exactly squat if I'm still in the dark.

The best advice I ever had came from two dying men. First, my father: On his dying bed, he pulled me toward him and said he had two pieces of advice to give me about life: "People expect too much from one another," and "Share a bag of apples with the one you love." The other conversation was on the telephone, a former lover, calling me to tell me he was dying and that he was not afraid. His advice to me, "Read more books." These pieces of advice stay with me still.


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