Last month I wrote a blog about Mickey Mantle and the wisdom expressed towards the end of his life. Another person that was able to express some words of wisdom when he knew he was dying was Warren Zevon, who died ten years ago today. While appearing on “the Late Show with David Letterman” for the last time Zevon was asked if he knew something more about life and death than he did before, he said what is now a famous line, “not unless I know how much I’m supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”
Take a moment and think about that. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? “Enjoy every sandwich.” We are a society of people that do not enjoy simple things as much as we should. Don’t get me wrong, I try to, but I don’t find it easy. I battle depression regularly and often good moments are lost on me. It’s a shame.
And while I know “enjoy every sandwich” does not refer only to sandwiches, I can 100% relate to it and took it 100% literally recently. After needing to budget myself very strictly about one month ago, I had been eating ramen noodles for lunch every day for over a week. I want to make it clear that I enjoy ramen noodles, but it’s one thing to like them, and it’s one thing to eat them because it’s all you can afford. But anyway, my point is when I got my next paycheck after the week of ramen, I went out for a sandwich on my lunch break. It was nothing more than an Italian combo from Subway, but I can’t begin to describe how great that sandwich was to me.
It’s important to enjoy simple things and moments. That is the point of Zevon’s comment and that was what I did with my sandwich. Having that lunch was not a life changing event, and it truly was not a memorable one, but I felt I had earned that lunch. It was an accomplishment, and it meant something.
I can’t claim to be the biggest Warren Zevon fan out there. Actually, other than “Werewolves of London,” I don’t know if I knew any of his songs before his illness. But after reading about him, I became interested and started listening to more of his work. I really liked what I heard. He wrote songs that were wise, humorous, and just relatable. And trust me, while “Werewolves of London” is his biggest hit, it really does not showcase his songwriting as well as other songs do. And in reality, the last album he wrote, “the Wind, “which he started after knowing he was dying was some of his most touching work.
Over the last few years as I had much of my life fall apart in a fairly short period of time, I like to believe that I gained a lot of perspective on what is truly important and what is just trivial nonsense. But I can say that I don’t have nearly the perspective that Mickey Mantle or Warren Zevon did towards the end of their lives. We all know we’re going to die at some point. But it’s a bit different to know it’s coming soon. Both Mantle and Zevon were able to say some wise things that we all need to pay attention to. Not only do we need to take better care of ourselves as Mickey Mantle said we need to do, but we really do need to enjoy every sandwich. Both are incredibly simple concepts that we all need to pay attention to. I’m working on both of them. Hopefully, I’ll be able to succeed.