65 Bits From 65 Trips

I never thought I’d live this long. I turned 65 on Tuesday. Officially, I’m a Senior. I legitimately qualify for sympathetic elderly discounts, and I’m gonna pocket the 10 percent—not feeling the least bit guilty over getting geezer graft.

I’ve made 65 trips around the sun. Some were easy. Some were hard. One year, I survived three fatal gunfights within two months—one leaving my police partner and best friend dead beside me. And I witnessed two miraculous childbirths within three years—our daughter Emily and our son Alan—one of whose delivery was not at all easy on my wife Rita’s body.

Many of my life experiences, from trauma to triumph, were terrific.

Some I’d love to relive. Some I’d like to reverse. But I’m happy, very happy, to be here and continue enjoying life.

I guess I’ve lived this long because, despite the odds of succumbing to high-risk behavior, the Creator purposely let me trip 65 times around the sun and learn a few bits. I believe in the Creator, and I believe the Creator approves of me passing-on these 65 bits from 65 trips.


  1. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve by taking action with a positive mental attitude. This is the core of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich personal growth and success philosophy which, in my experience, is pure truth.
  1. You become what you think about most of the time.
  1. Be careful with your thoughts, because your thoughts become your words. Be careful with your words, because your words become your actions. Be careful with your actions, because your actions become your habits. Be careful with your habits, because your habits become your character and your character becomes your destiny.
  1. Dream big. The first step in achieving a big dream is by having one.
  1. It doesn’t matter what came first—the chicken or the egg—as long as you stay alive and remain healthy enough to eat them.
  1. I’ve been rich. I’ve been poor. Rich is better.
  1. Always read the instructions. Twice. Then save them.
  1. Don’t buy extended warranties, timeshares, or cheap tools.
  1. Persistence is to character as carbon is to steel.
  1. If you must read the news, read for fact and data, not for opinions.
  1. Murder doesn’t round out anyone’s life except the murdered’s and sometimes the murderer’s.
  1. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
  1. If you chase a badger across a field and it goes down a hole, don’t follow and poke its backside with a pick handle. Seriously, I tried this and it wasn’t good.
  1. People of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.
  1. Do not steal the parking spot reserved for the guy who’s about to interview you for your dream job.
  1. And don’t bother searching for your eyeglasses while wearing them.
  1. Speaking of eyeglasses, when you go searching for your glasses and finally find them, don’t put them back where you found them. Put them where you first looked for them.
  1. Once you get it all down to one shopping cart, you’ve got it made.
  1. The Golden Rule will never fail. It’s the foundation of all other virtues.
  1. I don’t judge your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political beliefs, education, occupation, body shape, or any other thing that makes you as a human being. You are you. I am me. I’ll be nice to you even if you’re not nice to me and I’m okay with that.
  1. Never get involved in an Asian land war.
  1. To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting to, and taking personal responsibility for, the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.
  1. Optimize your generosity. No one on their deathbed ever regretted giving away too much.
  1. I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a trailer loaded with a ski-boat, an ATV, or a full-dresser Harley.
  1. A vacation + a disaster = an adventure.
  1. Ancient Jewish wisdom says not to argue to win the argument. Argue to discover the truth.
  1. The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.
  1. The best way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas and then discard the bad ideas.
  1. Seek to be the wisest in the room, not the loudest, and never miss a good chance to shut up.
  1. Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.
  1. If you have to convince someone to stay with you, then they’ve already left.
  1. You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book is too difficult for adults, then write it for children.
  1. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer. No surprise in the reader.
  1. Always apply the duck test.
  1. The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.
  1. The two founding points of human existence are consciousness and entropy.
  1. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
  1. Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, bad and good, and see how they do it. Just like a stonemason who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window and write something else.
  1. Carl Sagan said, “A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called leaves) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you’ll hear the voice of another person, perhaps a person who’s been dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time—proof that humans can work magic.”
  1. And Lady Gaga said, “When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.”
  1. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots but there are no old bold pilots.
  1. You don’t stop flying when you get old. You get old when you stop flying.
  1. A ride in a US Navy F-18 Hornet flight simulator is a mind-blowing and condomless, sexual experience. Been there. Done that. MUST do again.
  1. A business rule: Pay every invoice within 48 hours. You’ll be amazed at how many people give your work top priority.
  1. Ungulates like deer, moose, elk, and caribou have antlers for a reason.
  1. Bears have claws and teeth for a reason, too. Don’t poke the bear like I poked the badger.
  1. The cost of perfection is inaction, but boring progress produces exceptional results.
  1. The less you need the approval of others, the easier it is to get what is right rather than what is easy.
  1. “I don’t pay no attention to no kind of critics about nothing. If they knew as much as they claim about what they’re criticizing, then they ought to be doing that instead of standing on the sidelines using their mouth.” ~Muhammad Ali.
  1. Multitasking is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.
  1. Ninety percent of success can be boiled down to consistently doing the obvious thing for an uncommonly long time without convincing yourself that you’re smarter than you are.
  2. That thing that made you weird as a kid could make you great as an adult—provided you don’t lose it.
  1. If someone tries to convince you it’s not a pyramid scheme, it’s a pyramid scheme.
  1. If you have any doubts about your ability to carry a load in one trip, do yourself a favor and make two trips.
  1. Anything real begins with the fiction of what it could be. Imagination is the most potent force in the universe, and a skill you can get better at. It’s the one skill in life that benefits from ignoring what everyone else knows.
  1. For every dollar you spend on something substantial, expect to pay another dollar in repair, maintenance, and disposal fees by the end of its serviceable life.
  1. Eliminating clutter makes room for your true treasures.
  1. Art is in what you leave out.
  1. Never start a fight. Like, don’t get in a pissing match with a skunk, because you’re going to end up taking a tomato juice bath while the skunk reloads and carries on to defeat the next idiot.
  1. A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
  1. People shouldn’t look for perfect leaders. They should look for authentic leaders with human-flawed competence and integrity, not consumed with presenting their title’s self-importance.
  1. Near the end of his life, Steve Jobs said, “I learned that life is like a river. At first, you think that if you’re successful, you get to take many things from that river… products people have made or ideas people have come up with. But, eventually, in life you realize that it’s not what you take from the river, it’s what you get to put into that river.”
  1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not their facts.
  1. Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival.
  1. When you die, you take nothing with you except your reputation.

Bonus Bit: When playing Monopoly, spend all you have to buy, barter, or trade for the strategic orange properties at the end of the second stretch just before Free Parking. Don’t bother with Utilities or Railroads.


What about you Kill Zoners? Whether you have more or less than 65 trips under your hat, how about sharing life bits you’ve found?


Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective and coroner with over three decades of experience in human death investigation. Now, Garry has reincarnated as a crime writer who regularly contributes to the Kill Zone.

Garry Rodgers also runs his own blog at DyingWords.net where he provokes thoughts on life, death, and writing. Check it out. You can also follow Garry at GarryRodgers1 on Twitter.

56 thoughts on “65 Bits From 65 Trips

  1. Congrats and (belated) happy day, Sir… several of these have been “cut-n-pasted” and posted – with credit – semi-prominently…

    Two things, if I may:
    My father always said, “Take my advice, think for yourself…”
    And his father always said, “Never miss the opportunity to go the bathroom…” – something I’ve passed along to great-grandchildren he never got to meet, and that I’ve heard my oldest pass along to his young’n…

    • Thanks, George, and an apology to the Kill Zone gang for being so late in replying to comments. I don’t know what’s going on with the KZ WordPress site but it won’t let me access the post or comments until nearly a day after it goes live. I can see the comments through my email alerts but I can’t get onto the current post / post of the day.

      And, yes, some of these bits are pirated – surely no one thinks I’m bright enough to come up with all this stuff on my own 🙂

  2. Happy belated birthday, Garry! Thanks for sharing those bits of wisdom.

    Mine would be, “Never marry someone who has more problems than you do.”

    Enjoy your 66th year!

  3. Less than a month from my own 69th, I’ll add 4:

    Don’t lie.

    If it isn’t yours, leave it alone.

    I cannot tolerate intolerance.

    Upright is not a matter of degree. In every moment, you either are or you aren’t.

  4. Happy Birthday, Garry!!!

    Ali’s quote #49 is great.

    From Murphy’s Law posters:

    A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

    Don’t worry about what other people think of you. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them to think about you.

    You cannot teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of time and just annoys the pig.

  5. Happy Birthday, Garry! Thanks for a post loaded with wisdom and humor. I always enjoy your posts, encyclopedia, et al. We always get our money’s worth…well, more, actually. I guess we don’t pay you anything. So, sorry, there are no senior bonuses there to be had, but you deserve them.

    I, too, have made a few trips around our solar system, actually a few more than you. And I have done many stupid things that led to “accidents” that I might not have survived. Fortunately, that Creator you mentioned, has always pulled me out of the mess I made. I guess He has plans for what He wants me to do. I think it’s writing.

    My father’s favorite verse: “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

    Have a great day…and don’t poke any badgers!

    • Thanks for the HBD wishes, Steve. So… you’re older than me? Somehow I had you pegged for a wee bit junior. If age numbers are wiser numbers as you progress, then I assume you’re a wee bit smarter, too. Nice to know we’re made by the same Creator. BTW, I learned a HUGE life lesson from poking that badger.

  6. Happy birthday, Garry. I love so many of these. I have one of my own to add:

    Failure cannot be inflicted by others; it must be declared by the individual. People might think that you’re down and out, but as long as you keep getting up, you’re still in the fight.

  7. Welcome to the Old Geezers Club, Garry. Loved the Ali quote. Here’s one I have in my office:
    Success is that place in the road where preparation and opportunity meet, but too few people recognize it because too often it comes disguised as hard work.

  8. Happy birthday, Garry!!! I must’ve missed the FB notification. Bob turned 65 in September, and we’ve been taking advantage of the discounts. LOL

    So much great advice in one post. My favorite, I think, is #39. I’ll share a piece of advice my mother drilled into me: Dream big. Dream often. Dream without limits. Then put in the work to make those dreams a reality. Wise woman, my mom.

    • Hi BFF and internet wife! I don’t have my birthday posted on FB but I have an online twin who was born on the exact same day as me – Oct 19, 1956. It’s such a small world as she’s the first cousin of my police partner and friend who was shot to death on duty. We’ve kept in touch over the years and share the exact same music interests.

      I knew Boob was a month older than me. Hope you capitalize on every frikkin senior discount he can wrangle for you! And your Mom raised a great, great gal 🙂 **Big internet hugs and dream on** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89dGC8de0CA

  9. Happy Birthday, Garry, from someone who’d consider you young.
    My quote to share:
    “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

    • Thank you, Terry. You know, I was considering posting that saying from Alice In Wonderland. I found so many great quotes when I researched this piece. Eventually I just randomly selected some as well as making some up myself.

  10. Happy Birthday my fellow Canadian.

    Something tells me we’ll tailor a few more as we go through COVID. “63. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not their facts,” makes me wonder about science vs. public opinion. I’m rooting for science.

    • Hey neighbour ( and, yes, I spelled neighbour the Canadian way) and fellow westerner. I am so over this whole Covid mess, and I’ll follow the science experts every time over the bureaucrats. And don’t get me going on politics because it’s a taboo subject around the Kill Zone and I don’t want to get kicked off before I run out of things to say. Enjoy the oncoming cold. BTW, my son lives in Edmonton and just took an education leave from PPCLI.

  11. Congrats on your 65 solar orbits, Garry. I’m way ahead of you ;-).
    For me, some are:
    — exercise every day
    — sleep long every day
    — get sunlight every day

  12. Good morning, Garry, and a very happy belated birthday! Thanks for sharing these 65 bits of wisdom.

    My additional bits:

    We’re all in this life together, whether we want to be or not.
    The only thing you can truly control is what goes on between your ears.
    When it comes to writing, manage your expectations or else they’ll manage you.

  13. Happy birthday, Garry, and welcome to Senior World!

    I love your list. I read a chapter in the Book of Proverbs every morning as I gulp down my senior oatmeal. Here’s one I read this morning that reminds me of your #29:

    “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.” — Proverbs 21:23

    Maybe you should publish your own book of proverbs. We would all be better for it if you did. Have a great day.

  14. Airplane school drilled “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” into our heads. Along with ‘Weather or not, not’, and ‘Some pilots have 500 hours. Some have one hour 500 times.’

    Sadly, one of my classmates, a test pilot taught me this one, “Shit happens, and it doesn’t mean it’s somebody’s fault.”

    Happy Birthday!

    • I liked #41 about the old, bold pilots, too. I didn’t care much for #42.

      Another aviation proverb: Don’t fret about the runway that’s behind you.

    • I’ve always wanted to take up flying, Alan. My life course took me on the water and I managed to scam the Canadian Marine Transport Dept. into giving me a skipper’s ticket. I am so stealing “Weather or not, not” and posting it in my wheelhouse. I am a total chicken shit of bad weather.

  15. Satchel Paige’s Six Rules for Staying Young

    1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.
    2. If you stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
    3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
    4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.
    5. Avoid running at all times.
    6. Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

  16. Garry, I think these aren’t just gold…maybe platinum. Or the most expensive gem in the world…the blue diamond can be yours for 3.93 million per carat.

    I particularly like #30-Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up. I’ve learned that the fences in my life are sometimes not there to stifle me, but to free me to be me. (Oh, maybe that’s one for my list!)

    And one of my other favorites: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. ~Elmore Leonard

    Thanks for turning 65 so you could gift us with this. I think I’ll start working on my list . . . I’ll need to come up with 67, though. 🙂

    • What’s a couple of years difference at our age, Deb? We’re only as old as we feel, right? Elmore Leonard. Talk about gems. His ten rules are pure platinum and I have them prominently printed out.

      Just a note about fences. When my wife and I bought our first house, one of the first things we noticed was a peculiar backyard. On the west side there was no fence and the lawn blended seamlessly into the neighbor’s lawn. On the east side was this massive mother of a solid fence that you couldn’t even see over. We found out why the day we moved in.

  17. Happy birthday, Garry! We’re the same age, though I don’t think I could come up with 65 the way you did.

    I do have one: Never say goodbye to people you love without telling them you love them.

    When I was twelve, my dad went on a business trip and died while he was away. If something happens to me, I want the people I love to remember that the last thing they heard me say to them was “I love you.”

    • “I love you” ends all my conversations. If the pandemic has taught those who have never lost anyone before anything, it’s that we never know when the last time we talk will be.

    • Thanks for the BD wishes, Cynthia, and I’m so sorry to hear about losing your father. My sincere condolences. 🙁 Those three words, “I love you” are the core of my family’s connection. We never part without the affirmation.

  18. Happy, Happy Belated Birthday, Garry! May your sense of adventure lead you into a new year of experiences no more dangerous than poking that badger and 100 times more enjoyable.

    My favorites from your list are #28, #33, #38, #65.

    The older I get, the more I lean into Steve Jobs’ question. “If today were the last of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

    • Thank you, Suzanne 🙂 I had to scroll up to recall what each number quoted.

      Yes – “If today were the last of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” What a question to start the day! BTW, I gained an enormous respect for badger power that day.

    • Thank you very much, Marilynn. I’ve been very fortunate in the health department and I follow Mark Twain’s advice. “I reckon most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”

  19. Happy birthday, Garry, and congrats on qualifying for those senior discounts! I must confess that Shoppers Drug Mart has been giving them to me for a couple of years now because of my unique grey highlights, lol.

    I loved all of your 65 Tips. The only one I’d add is: If your dog doesn’t like a person, you shouldn’t either. I’m a true believer in my dogs ability to suss out people’s character.

    • You are so, so right about dog sense, Laurie. Our dearly departed Corgi could sense a human a-hole from a half-mile away. BTW, I think Shoppers has an age 60 discount. Might even be 55 just to undercut London Drugs & Rexall. (Canadian content for the US friends 🙂

  20. Brilliant. ‘appy burfday, Garry.
    In the spirit of your post I would add 2 observations:
    1: Learn to understand the difference between Art and Entertainment.
    Art resonates —entertainment fades.
    2: Learn to understand the difference between Art and Science. Art explores the possible outcomes of probability. Science explores the probable outcomes of possibility.

  21. Congrats on hanging on to this spinning round (or is it flat) thing for 65 trips around the shiny warm thing. There’s a lot to be said for being able to do that…and for taking the time to learn all of those tidbits you shared. I’m still working on number 28. I’ve got the bad ones down pat…

    • The Earth is flat and the Sun revolves around it making us the center of the Universe. I read that on the internet, Steven, so obviously it’s true. Good luck sorting #28!

  22. Completed my 65th orbit today. One thing I’ve learned is that to have a happy life, a dog is an absolute must. Our new pup, Maisie, is on my lap as I write this.

    • A fellow Libra, David. Fellow official Geezer, too. Enjoy Maisie! We’re dogless right now but in the market. So agree about the happiness they bring into the home.

  23. I hit 73 this year rookie scribbler that I am, college student guitar amp repairman and definitely out of the law business for good.

    You’re just a young pup, many more birthdays to come.

    These are all good maxims. Don’t buy cheap tools is a good one. Listen to what your body is telling you is another.

    My old man always said “It’s always a good time to keep your mouth shut and your bowels tight.” How right he was.

    • Great comment, Robert. Thanks. I might be a young pup, but I’ve reached the age where it’s much more of a challenge to loosen the bowels than keep them tight. 🙂

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