Aphorisms by Beston Jack Abrams

Entering his ninth decade, Beston Jack Abrams has discovered a new passion; move over jazz, opera and the Chicago Bears, make room for aphorisms!

Mr. Abrams began composing aphorisms about two years ago. After leaving the Army, he graduated from Northwestern University in 1949 and became a pharmaceutical salesman. He retired in 1990, but Mr. Abrams’ idea of retirement consisted of starting his own pharmaceutical trademark company. Nowadays, he helps his wife, Tybie, run her dotcom (devoted to American-made gifts for grandchildren) and he spends several days a month in nursing homes—entertaining residents by playing CDs of the music, and reciting the lyrics, of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.

He and his wife “are aghast at the state of our nation, entranced by our grandchildren and grateful for our enduring vitality,” Mr. Abrams writes. “Tybie thinks I am quirky, too studious, sing too many songs for which I’ve forgotten the words, while I think I am endlessly charming. With words we pursue and sometimes capture reality; on with the chase.”

Some glimpses of reality caught in Mr. Abrams’ aphoristic snare:

At the start of an enterprise, risk is invited; as it succeeds, it is avoided.

Solitude is a teacher; loneliness, a terror.

Solitude must be sought; loneliness comes unbidden.

Insult is less hurtful than disregard.

A low IQ is not always essential for an unintelligent act; frequently a high IQ will do nicely as well.

A peaceful life requires a tolerance for contradictions and foreigners.

In comparing the corrupt with the incompetent, choose the former; at least they know what they’re doing.

Complete arrogance is the result of incomplete data.