My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I barely read any non-fiction (outside of the technical writing found in information technology reference guides) in any given year. When I do branch out away from fiction, I prefer to read a biography, autobiography or memoir, or a history book, usually on a particular brief period.
I breezed through Dick Van Dyke‘s autobiography quickly, probably because it felt like he sat in my living regaling me with tales from his past in his engaging and witty manner. His charm and good will bubbled out of the pages. Even the troubles and tragedies he confessed only evoked my compassion or caring in my assessment of him.
A couple of excerpts that really struck a chord for me:
I was all about living a kind, righteous, moral, forgiving, and loving life seven-days a week, not just the one day when you went to church. … And if there’s not a higher power, no one’s going to be worse for the wear for his or her effort. Was there one way? No, not as far as I could tell — other than to feel loved, to love back, … as simple as making sure you spend time helping make life a little better for other people.
(from the Family Values chapter)
A few years ago, I told Esquire magazine that the Buddhists boiled it down to the essentials. They said you need three things in life: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. The message does not get any clearer. I heard walt Disney, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Carl Reiner all say the same thing in their own way. Hope is life’s essential nutrient, and love is what gives life meaning. I think you need somebody to love and take care of, and someone who loves you back. In that sense, I think the New Testament got it right. So did the Beatles. Without love, nothing has any meaning.
(from the Curtain Calls chapter)
When I finished the book, I wanted to give him a big hug, but of course, I’m too far away to do that. So I’ll send him a little love for all the laughs and love he’s shared unconditionally with me, with all of us really, for some many decades. As long as I’ve been alive, there’s always been a Dick Van Dyke to make me smile.