Don’t Take Anything for Granted
1A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
Your death date tells more than your birth date.
2 You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover
something from it.
3 Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart.
4 Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
Fools waste their lives in fun and games.
5 You’ll get more from the rebuke of a sage
Than from the song and dance of fools.
6 The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
Under the cooking pot. And like smoke.
7 Brutality stupefies even the wise
And destroys the strongest heart.
8 Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.
9 Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.
Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.
10 Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?”
Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.
11-12 Wisdom is better when it’s paired with money,
Especially if you get both while you’re still living.
Double protection: wisdom and wealth!
Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes its owner.
13 Take a good look at God’s work.
Who could simplify and reduce Creation’s curves and angles
To a plain straight line?
14 On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.
Stay in Touch with Both Sides
15-17 I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly?
18 It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
19 Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person
Than ten strong men give to a city.
20 There’s not one totally good person on earth,
Not one who is truly pure and sinless.
21-22 Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
What if the gossip’s about you and you’d rather not hear it?
You’ve done that a few times, haven’t you—said things
Behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to his face?
How to Interpret the Meaning of Life
23-25 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me, far beyond me, and deep—oh so deep! Does anyone ever find it? I concentrated with all my might, studying and exploring and seeking wisdom—the meaning of life. I also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.
26-29 One discovery: A woman can be a bitter pill to swallow, full of seductive scheming and grasping. The lucky escape her; the undiscerning get caught. At least this is my experience—what I, the Quester, have pieced together as I’ve tried to make sense of life. But the wisdom I’ve looked for I haven’t found. I didn’t find one man or woman in a thousand worth my while. Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.