I love paradoxes, koans, proverbs, teaching stories, and aphorisms. In fact, I’m writing my own collection of aphorisms.
For anyone with a taste for short, memorable statements, one of the most often quoted figures is the legendary baseball player, manager, and coach Yogi Berra, who was the master of paradox and the unexpected.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Of a restaurant in St. Louis: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
- When attendance at baseball games was down: “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”
- During a golf game, he told a friend that his shot was going to go into the water. His friend said, “Come on, Yogi, don’t be like that. Think positively.” Yogi replied, “Okay, I’m positive my shot is going into the water.”
- When he was with the New York Mets, he saw Ron Swoboda imitating the mannerisms of a great player. Yogi said, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”
- I remind myself of this one all the time, as a writer of the human condition: “You can observe a lot by watching.”
- When he was trying to give someone directions, he said, “It’s not too far, it just seems like it is.”
- Some are very profound: “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.”
- “The future ain’t what it used to be.” That’s true, now more than ever.
- In the car with his family, on the way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he reassured everyone by saying, “We’re lost, but we’re making good time!” This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite lines, which is when someone says, “We lose money on every sale, but we make it up on volume.”
And finally, Yogi Berra said, “I didn’t really say everything I said!”
I find myself quoting Yogi Berra all the time. In his own hilarious style, he captured some profound truths.