I grew up on a steady diet of comedy, mostly from Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and Bill Murray. Murray, more than anyone, influenced my love of humor and inspired my own artistic endeavors. No one on screen is more real, humble, and approachable. He has made people laugh for more than 40 years, since his early days on Saturday Night Live. His early films, such as Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Caddyshack, remain relevant and iconic today.
I was pleased to see Murray awarded the Mark Twain Prize this week, for in his simple and slapstick comedy is much genius that inspires. And no wonder. Murray went beyond acting, taking time away from the screen to study heavier things like philosophy and history at the Sorbonne in Paris.
While the Hollywood rumor mill has often accused Murray of being moody and difficult, his collaborators and many interviewers describe him as a thoughtful guy, someone who definitely knows his own mind, and who lives life on his own terms. Below are 21 quotes from Murray on living your own truth and living it well.
1. “The secret is to have a sense of yourself, your real self, your unique self.”
2. “The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything–the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.”
3. “This is not a dress rehearsal; this is your life.”
4. “Life is so damn short. For f*ck’s sake, just do what makes you happy.”
5. “I live a little bit on the seat of my pants, I try to be alert and available. I try to be available for life to happen to me. We’re in this life, and if you’re not available, the sort of ordinary time goes past and you didn’t live it. But if you’re available, life gets huge. You’re really living it.”
6. “You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time.”
7. “We do need each other. It’s lonely to really effectively live your life, and anyone you can give help to, or get help from, that’s part of your obligation.”
8. “Somewhere there’s a score being kept, so you have an obligation to live life as well as you can, be as engaged as you can. The human condition means that we can zone out and forget what the hell we’re doing.”
9. “I take my chances on a job or a person as opposed to a situation. I don’t like to have a situation placed over my head. “
10. “I made a lot of mistakes and realized I had to let them go. Don’t think about your errors or failures, otherwise you’ll never do a thing. “
11. “I think midlife crisis is just a point where people’s careers have reached some plateau and they have to reflect on their personal relationships.”
12. “You can handle just about anything that comes at us out on the road with a believable grin, common sense, and whiskey.”
13. “People are like music. Some speak the truth, and others are just noise.”
14. “The best way to teach your kids about taxes is by eating 30 percent of their ice cream.”
15. “I think everyone becomes a jerk for about two years when they become famous. So I give people two years to figure it out and pull it together. But you end up behaving poorly because there’s just no training for it. There’s nothing your parents ever did, no matter what kind of people they are, because everything just gets different. The information coming to you comes differently, and people treat you differently, sort of, and everything changes for us. So it takes you a little while to figure it out.”
16. “If you can consciously let yourself get taken and see where you go, that’s an exercise. That’s discipline. To follow the scent. Let yourself go and see what happens, that takes a bit of courage.”
17. “I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: ‘Try being rich first.’ See if that doesn’t cover most of it. There’s not much downside to being rich, other than paying taxes and having your relatives ask you for money. But when you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job.”
18. “I don’t have a problem talking about my work, but I don’t make a habit of talking about myself.”
19. “I can only take so much TV, because there is so much advice. I find people will preach about virtually anything–your diet, how to live your life, how to improve your golf. The lot. I have always had a thing against the Mister Know-It-Alls.”
20. “I’m more of a person when I’m working on a movie than at any other time. Because I actually have to really be there. I really gotta show up.”
21. “The last time doesn’t exist. It’s only this time. And everything is going to be different this time. There’s only now.”