Knowing Yourself – From 2014


Toritto perhaps a dozen years ago

“May you have all the happiness you can stand with just a touch of sorrow so you know the difference”.

My father wrote those words in my high school yearbook in 1959.  I was 16 years old.

Pretty heavy stuff coming from a  common laborer with an 8th grade education. My father had solved the mystery of life.

He knew what was important and what was not.   It would be decades until I saw the wisdom in his words.

So what defines you?

If you had to pick one characteristic that is the essential you, what would it be?

Tens of millions are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters.   Married.  Happily or not.  Divorced.  Single.  Widowed.  Love our work.  Hate our work. Ambivalent about work.  Take the money and go home.  Empathetic. Couldn’t care less.  Generous.  Selfish.  Things mean everything. Things mean nothing.  Religious.  Spiritual.  Atheist.

These are demographics used by advertisers..

The characteristic which is most important to me, and which I most value,  is that I know what is important to me and what is not.

Do you?  Do you fret over things you cannot change and which in the end affect your life little?  Why?

I no longer let “little things” bother me.   I am therefore content in my life.

My life has proceeded  in sections. A period of very happy years with little responsibility. A decade of sorrow  that seemed endless but did in fact end.  Another period of happiness albeit with major responsibility. Then the end of my married life after 40 years – at the time our responsibilities were done and we were preparing to do all the things we wanted to do together but for which we never had the time or the money.

I have lived the extremes of joy and sorrow.  There can be no greater youthful  joy than marrying your girl six months after the high school prom over the frantic objections of our parents and spending forty years together.  Or walking both your daughters down the aisle.  There is no greater sorrow than burying two of your four children.  Then burying your girl.

That puts it all in perspective.

I have learned that in most ways I have lived a very rich life and that each of those joys and sorrows  comes to an end.

My father knew that.

Nothing lasts forever.  Not pain.  Not happiness.

I have learned to enjoy in the moment.

What is important?

Health.  Love.  Family.  Friends.  Honor.

These things will make one content.   It doesn’t take all that much money to live a happy life – if you have these.

The most important virtue is knowing what is important to you and what is not.   Looking in the mirror and knowing you are loved and respected.  That you can live alone and not be lonely.  That you never spend a holiday uninvited.  That your daughters call  everyday – because they want to.

And stay young.  Don’t become an old crank.  Learn or do something new.

The secrets of happiness and contentment are not copyrighted.

Feel free to use as you see fit.


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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11 Responses to Knowing Yourself – From 2014

  1. Monica Paccione says:

    Thank you for this post. I really appreciate it. It’s so perfect for me right now. I lost my mom and dad over the period of the past six years and I miss them so much. I miss them for their wisdom and I miss them for what they were able to provide for to my sisters and myself. I am going to use this and share it with my friends and family. So thank you from a member of your tribe. Monica Paccione DiVito Scarangella and Florio.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Hi cousin! I I know we’re are cousins though I don’t know how. I’m glad you liked the post. I wrote it a few years ago and decided to put it up again.

      My health took a downturn in 2020 and I write less than I used to. Not that I’m on my death bed! Just a few steps slower than I was a year ago.

      I’m sorry to hear about your parents. II lost my half a century ago. Mom was 43 and my father was 56. I’ve been without them a long time.

      I’m sending a link to a post you may enjoy:

      Go to the search box above and type in “The Toritto Phone Book”

      Love to the clan. Write about your family!


  2. DesertAbba says:

    Frank, Jane and I have enjoyed prolonging the post-prom experience for almost 59 years. We both are so enriched by by your insights and your capacity/gift to weave the words together in such a gorgeous tapestry. Thank you yet again for allowing us to peer over your shoulder as you give voice to the joy of living a contented life. Om mani padme uhm🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  3. toritto says:

    Hi guys! Many thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked.

    Best from Florida



  4. beetleypete says:

    Long ago, I decided to define myself by being kind. I have tried my best every day since to be kind. If that has worked, I will be remembered as a kind man, and that’s the best thing I could ever want.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. vonnely says:

    What a beautiful and encouraging post, thank you.1 And the sentence “May you have all the happiness you can stand with just a touch of sorrow so you know the difference” is absolutely wonderful, such a gift from a father to a teen son. Very inspiring, I might bring it with me in my writing, if you don’t mind (with reference to you if I do, of course) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. toritto says:

    feel free Vonnely and thanks for the kind words. Best from Florida


  7. Jennie says:

    Really nice, Frank!

    Liked by 1 person

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