I like writing humor because it helps me laugh at the ups and downs of life. There’s no way to avoid the pains of life. I know because I’ve tried. But being funny about the foibles of being human has a way of softening life’s bumpy roads.
I wrote my latest book, Better Late Than Dead!, because I wanted to share making light of the human condition with you. Here’s a review of my book from Rebecca Armstrong that nicely sums up the experience of the book:
Dim-Sum for the Soul
(Weren’t you getting tired of chicken soup?)
I’m just a speck in the universe.
Sometimes, though, I wind up in the eye of God
and get some attention.
(from the book)
Ever since Alan Watts died, America has been without a local Zen master able to make us laugh at our pathetic, national attempts at world domination – or just our incessant, personal need to feel superior. Well, now we’ve got one! Brooks Palmer and his new book, Better Late than Dead, have filled the void. I got my copy of the book yesterday and read the whole thing in one afternoon splurge of sheer exuberance.
Brooks Palmer is just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary capacity for imagining the unlikely intersections of thoughts in a universe unconstrained by space or time. Brooks is regularly visited by, or makes time-travel visits to, dead presidents, angels, remote Arctic hangouts, heaven, historical figures, saints, ancestors with special gifts, authors, and animals of all sorts, especially his wise and wise-cracking dog, Rexy. In every one of these encounters, Brooks is taught something more about humility and the need to just take life as it is.
Here is a typical day-in-the-life event for Brooks:
While we shared a fondue lunch, God said,
“Listen, I made you lazy. It’s not your fault.”
I said, “But you also made me want to improve myself.”
God said, “No, that’s your fault.”
Any ego-stroking tends to be a mixed blessing, as in these exchanges:
I took my dog Rexy out for a walk. We didn’t say anything to each other for quite a while. Finally my dog Rexy said, “I think of you as my person.”
God and I were swimming in my backyard pool.
I asked if Jesus and I were drowning whom would God save.
God said, “You.”
With tears running down my eyes I thanked God.
God said, “Jesus is afraid of water and won’t go near a pool.”
Then there are the dozens of lovely – “Ha, I bet you never thought of that” moments – that are scattered throughout the book accompanied by a small, childlike drawings reminiscent of A.A. Milne or Antoine de St. Exupery. For instance:
But it is not merely small quips and jests that make up this book. Scattered in between the bite-size candy are chewier morsels for the mind. Like the morning the ghost of philosopher, William James, shows up and is offered toast. After munching the ghost confesses to be stymied in his further investigations into pragmatism. Brooks, having been urged to learn to be more compassionate by his girlfriend, offers this advice:
‘… perhaps it’s nothing than one could ever completely unfold since the essence of the investigation is the questioner herself and awareness can never know itself, just like the tongue can never taste itself. William James said that essentially I was correct, but the waves of investigation can never be thwarted. I agreed. I’ve been finding that agreeing with whatever anyone says has made my life much easier. As Charles Peirce, the founder of pragmatism said, ‘Essentially, what makes life most practical will find me burrowing into it.’
A stroll through this book takes you from nihilistic depths to ecstatic heights but mostly back to the hilarity of everyday life and our ridiculous quest to make more out of everything than is necessary. But even that is embraced at last as just one more of our endearingly human quirks. As Brooks discovers in yet another one of his strolls with God:
I went for a walk along the beach with God.
I said, “I’m never satisfied.”
God said, “I know, you’re as bad as me.”
This is a good book to give to a type-A friend, or to keep in the bathroom for all your other friends who are closet perfectionists and need to laugh and sigh a bit more, especially when in the act of letting it all go – like we all should!
Click the pic to order the book!