July 29th, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Letter to the President #556: 'And you can quote me! Pt. 4'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/interactive/2010/05/us/gallery.large.oil.spill/images/298.jpg caption="If the oil has truly, really, honestly, incontrovertibly, unimpeachably, reliably, verifiably been stopped, or even if it will be in the very near future, I’ll assure you that I will be one happy boy. " width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: I have read a fair number of quote books in my time, and have noticed a lot of things being quoted that frankly aren’t so quotable. That said, I’d like to be included in one, but so far all I can come up with is, “Hmm… looks like rain.” That, and a few hundred letters to the president.

Dear Mr. President,

If the oil has truly, really, honestly, incontrovertibly, unimpeachably, reliably, verifiably been stopped, or even if it will be in the very near future, I’ll assure you that I will be one happy boy. It seems like we’ve been watching those pictures of bubbling crude longer than Jed Clampett, and frankly as TV goes, it’s more depressing than CSPAN, and that’s saying something. So here’s hoping.

In my continuing series this week of quotes that have inspired me, today I have a strange one. Maybe even a little unsettling. It’s from the movie The Pope of Greenwich Village. There is this scene in which this guy is about to have his thumb cut off by gangsters and he asks advice from a pal about what he should do. And this is the response, at least as IMDB has it…

Nothing hurts as much as you think it will. You go numb... then you wrap your belt around your wrist and get to the nearest hospital.

I realize this is a shade on the macabre side, but I truly do think of that scene fairly often. When things don’t go as we plan (which, let’s face it, is pretty much all the time,) and especially when they take a dreadful turn, (honestly, I had no idea that Silly String could be flammable,) it’s good to take a moment and remind ourselves that it could be worse.

I’ve often told my children that even on their worst day, when everything seems to be falling down around them they should offer a prayer of thanks for all the goodness in their lives, the luck of their birth into a great free nation and a loving family, and the native intelligence and skill with which they have been blessed. (Oh, and I also have another thing I say whenever they get hurt which seems to lighten the load, “Hey now, don’t cry. It could have been worse. It could have happened to me!”)

In a few short words, this line from that movie offers a world of wisdom for my money. First, don’t take a hit too hard. Second, take immediate action to stop the damage. And third, move as quickly as possible to make permanent repairs.

If nothing else, such a philosophy keeps us from dwelling on our bad luck, and usually I find that’s the first step to making better luck come my way.

Hope all is well. More tomorrow.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. C

    Dear Mr. Foreman,
    I happened to stumble on your blog a couple of months of ago as I was nearing the days till my college graduation. I am sure you hear this alot but I am another person who loves to click on my CNN Tom Foreman bookmark and see what Mr. Foreman has to say about what is going on.

    Whether or not this gets posted and whether or not you read this, I wanted to voice my thank yous somewhere in hopes that maybe some cosmic force will transport this message to you and you feel happy knowing someone out there appreciates your writing.

    It is funny how sometimes certain things are just appropriate for your life at the moment. I had a rough week this week. Bad news, regrets, a good hard look in the mirror and not really liking what I see...but I too have learned to pick up myself and learn from it. Then I happened to read your article today and how perfect. I could almost hear you saying it to me. Thank you for continuing your blogs whether you get paid to or not. They do make a difference. Writing always does!

    Kind and cheerful regards,

    July 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

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