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My scary grandmother used to tell me,
"Pretty is as pretty does."
My step-mother would say,
"Be sure your sin shall find you out."
When I was 5, my mother told me,
"Only saints can go to heaven —
but you can never be a saint."
When I was 20, a friend told me,
"It doesn't matter what you do — it's all work."
Someone else said,
"The important thing is to do what has heart."
So many things people told me:
"The secret of life is being on time — "
"The secret of life is just showing up — "
"The first law of the universe is change"
"If you don't speak your feelings
you might as well be dead"
"The secret of life is love"
Then there was the nun at the orphanage who said,
"The secret of life is suffering;
it is a great gift to be given great suffering.
To suffer in this life
would bring greater grace in the hereafter."
Perhaps most memorable was the psychotic who told me:
"You are 3,000 years old —
and you know the answers —
but you won't tell me —
You're just mean —
You know the answers
but you won't tell!"