I looked up “the dog days of summer” on The Google and there are dates assigned to this period each year (specifically, July 3rd through August 11th).
The expression has little to do with dogs and more to do with astronomy (who knew?) and here’s a short video just in case you want more information on the origin story.
Being an avid baseball fan, this period is also when the season begins to get tedious…it’s a looong 6-month season…and when the temperature peaks, interest (often) plummets…especially when your team has no chance of winning.
However, last year, amid the dog days of August, we had a reminder that living life tediously should never be tolerated, no matter how sweaty the weather…when we lost one of the most beloved and accomplished baseball broadcasters, Vin Scully, at the age of 94.
Here is the quote that served as that reminder:
Don’t be sad that it’s over; smile because it happened.
-Dr. Suess, Gabriel García Márquez…and Vin Scully
I heard the quote above attributed to him—then Googled it and there were others who said it in some form before him—but last year (and today) the credit is all his.
Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Gabriel García Márquez (and I’m sure others).
The beauty of Vin Scully is that he could care less about getting credit for the quote; but I know—based on following his career during my 50+ years following baseball—he cares deeply about the sentiment.
Here’s a guy who had a front row seat to some of the most memorable games ever played…and with each one, he soaked up the experience for everything it was worth…and kept smiling every day about every one until the day he died.
Not a bad prescription for living a meaningful life.
If you follow this blog regularly you might interpret some of the “memorial posts” to be a little depressing (or even morbid) …but I am pleading with you not to interpret them that way.
When I wrote about my near fatal stroke in 2019…or the tributes to some of the greats of marketing (e.g., Joe Sugarman, Clayton Makepeace, Fred Catona, Jim Rutz, Lester Wunderman) when they died …and most recently the passing of my mom…it is always in the spirit of celebrating life, not mourning it.
It’s why I try to attend, in person, every funeral or memorial service of anyone who has touched me during my lifetime…not only to celebrate them but to discover key things I missed while they were alive.
I attend and I am sad because they are gone; but at the same time, I am blessed to have known them and to learn how others experienced the departed, sharing what they learned from them (and key achievements and milestones that I would otherwise never know).
Funerals are sad…and celebratory…and dare I say, educational.
Soaking in lost gems from people who knew the departed better than us, creating a fuller portrait of a life well lived, is always a priceless experience.
My advice: Attend every funeral you can…and pay close attention.
And…don’t be sad because their life is over; smile because their life happened.
Back to some additional wisdom, courtesy of Vin Scully (and friends):
Because he wanted to keep experiencing and smiling, he incorporated this quote into his life to insure he had joy until the end:
Some people die twice: once when they retire, and again when they actually pass away. Fear of the first one is a big incentive for me to keep working.
That’s not to say “retirement” is a dirty word…but Scully’s quote is a bit of a warning to all of us to stay productive and engaged…and to focus on meaningful experiences (including some form of “work”) no matter what your definition of retirement might be.
Check out “When death comes knocking, be busy” if you want to read more on “the perils of retirement.” 🙂
Another quote from Vin Scully got me thinking, during the dog days of August last year, about direct response marketing (although he was referring to baseball):
Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.
While I believe direct mail wizard Dick Benson when he said, “You have to believe your numbers since they are all you’ve got until you get new numbers,” numbers are not everything.
Numbers in the hands of a mathematician or an accountant are far different than in the hands of a seasoned marketer…all numbers are valid despite not being equal…and to the marketer, they must be seen through a lens of additional variables including instinct, heart, and experience.
Ignore your numbers (i.e., “statistics for support”) at your peril; but they are not the be-all and end-all when you are “illuminating” a new product or promotion.
I wonder if Vin would approve of me taking his quote completely out of context?
I didn’t know where I wanted to go with this post today, one year after Scully’s death…but I know I wanted to once again acknowledge the importance of living in the present from a guy who had a lot of presents…and presence.
I also wanted to “apologize” (again) for writing about death and dying so often…and to let you know why I believe it is always timely to do in a blog that is supposedly about marketing, copywriting, and entrepreneurship.
Using Vin Scully as my anchor to express this sentiment seems appropriate.
Hopefully you don’t mind.
I’ll close with a parable that was sent to me by a member of my online family in response to my post, “Meaningful Clutter,” when my mom passed away in 2022 (at 97 years young).
Every person I’ve shared this parable with told me how meaningful it was to them…it’s worth sharing again…and I hope it’s as meaningful to all of you:
A person stood at the pier and watched a ship about to embark on a long journey.
There was music and a parade, and generally the mood was festive as people were waving to the passengers.
On the other side of the pier, he noticed that a ship was coming in from a long journey. There was nobody there to greet them.
The passengers disembarked, picked up their luggage, and left.
The person couldn’t understand.
Shouldn’t it have been just the opposite?
The ship heading out was in great peril.
Who knew whether it would capsize in a storm, or whether pirates would capture the ship?
Shouldn’t the mood have been more somber and perhaps prayers were more appropriate than festivities?
The festivities and parade should have been saved for the incoming ship who weathered all the ocean threw at it and came away unscathed.
This parable is the story of life.
We celebrate the birth of a new child, and mourn the passing away of a loved one.
Who knows what this child will grow up to be?
A righteous person or an evil one?
[My note: “A righteous marketer or an evil one? Yes, this is a marketing blog :-)]
Will the soul accomplish its mission in this world?
Shouldn’t there rather be lots of prayer instead of celebrating?
The opposite is true at the passing of a loved one.
If they lived a righteous and accomplished life, then it would behoove us to be happier than we usually are when losing a loved one.
Here’s an additional reminder to all of us to celebrate age, wisdom…and yes, death (at least as much as birth)… and it’s another quote from Vin Scully:
It’s a mere moment in a man’s life between an All-Star Game [played during the prime of their career] and an Old-Timers Game [played after their “retirement”].
And from Eleanor Roosevelt (whether she was a baseball fan or not):
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it’s called “the present.”
Combining Vin with Eleanor:
Smile because it happened…smile when it eventually happens…and smile while it is happening. 🙂
P.S. While writing the post above, I kept coming back to the final chapter of my book, Overdeliver, which is titled, “Playing the Long Game.”
The irony of the book being released one day before I had my stroke will never be lost on me…nor will the fact that “life is long” no matter how many years we all have left.
There I go again…NOT getting depressing and morbid…just celebrating the wonder of life and death. 🙂
After my stroke, while recovering in the hospital, I thought about what my footprint might have been had I died that day…and it was not my book.
Rather, it is the resource page for the book…OverdeliverBook.com…because my footprint is only possible because of the larger footprints of my mentors who came before me…and many of them are honored on that page.
So…in the spirit of remembrance, celebrating life (and death) I invite you to check out that page and see what standing on the shoulders of giants looks like.
Also: Feel free to buy the book there with an over delivery of free bonuses (hey, when you title a book titled “Overdeliver” you need to over deliver on the bonuses) …and dive into the wisdom of many of my giants.
And my list of giants (all with mighty shoulders) grows every day.
Today I can add Vin Scully and Gabriel García Márquez…with a nod to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Note that Dr. Seuss is acknowledged in the reading list for Overdeliver so I had him covered already. 🙂