Today is George Carlin's birthday. He was my favorite stand-up comedian. I'm tempted to say that he was a hero of mine, but that's exactly the type of thing that I expect would have annoyed him. I can see why. How can you ever put that kind of label on someone that you don't know and who you've only experienced through their work? Setting aside the hero label, it's fair to say that George Carlin is a man whose work made me feel less alone.
Here are a few things from his books and performances that resonated with me over the years:
“I love words. I thank you for hearing my words. I want to tell you something about words that I think is important. Words are my work, they’re my play. They’re my passion. Words are all we have really. We have thoughts, but thoughts are fluid. And, then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought. So be careful with words. The same words that hurt can heal.”“They give you a coloring book and some crayons, and tell you, be creative... but don't go outside the lines.”“I dislike groups of people but I love individuals. Every person you look at; you can see the universe in their eyes, if you're really looking."“You will do things in the name of a group that you would never do on your own. Injuring, hurting, killing are all part of it, because you've lost your identity, because you now owe your allegiance to this thing that's bigger than you are and that controls you.”"I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fucking heroic."“People say, 'I'm going to sleep now' as if it were nothing. But it's really a bizarre activity. 'For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I'm going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life."
And with that, I'm going to sleep now. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.