We’ve never looked at television host Larry King as an oracle, at least not until his death at the age of 87. Only then were we made aware of a quote attributed to him that could be the simplest explanation of how to navigate the vicissitudes of life.
“If you have passion, a chip on the shoulder, a sense of humor, and you can explain what you do very well, it doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber or a singer or a politician. If you have those four things, you are interesting.”
Perhaps Larry was only referring to whether you’d be a decent subject for one of his interview programs. But in this salient nugget of wisdom, he could well be stating what all the monks, priests, scholars and philosophers have spent centuries and volumes trying to define as a “life worth living.” Let’s break it down to it essentials, shall we?
- Like Ishmael, what is your great white whale? Do you have a strong and barely controllable emotion about something in your life? Whether it be the arts or fiduciary accounting, pursue it until your EKG reads “zero.”* Even if there is little chance of success that your single apple seed turns into a full-blown orchard, the Sisyphean climb up your mountain will produce plenty of strong memories and interesting fodder for psychiatrists, sociologists and yes, talk show hosts to study.
- Believe in yourself. No matter how uncertain, insolvent, or unbalanced you are, put that chip on your shoulder and don’t let anyone knock it off. Who are they to question your love of ice baths? Like Larry quoting Lenny Bruce, tell them to go unfuck themselves.
- Laugh long and hard, and at your own screwups most of all. For those who can chortle at the absurdity of the world tend to live until at least 87 years of age.*
- Get a story and stick with it. Even if you have many interests, many side hustles, and many dreams, formulate a simple narrative about yourself and repeat as often as necessary. In Larry’s case, that started with his name.
*Despite many people thinking Larry had died ages ago, he actually just kicked the bucket on Saturday. Utilizing his own four point system detailed above, he managed to beat the actuarial table by a good 8 years.