Dad’s Favorite Joke

I was gonna make this a Friday Thought for Today, but:

  1.  It is way too long (as you know I try to keep the daily quotes short and sweet)
  2. It is pretty “obtuse”, is, I guess, the word. And I’m thinking many people won’t get it/see the point, but I love it, and have for well over 50 years.

You see, it was my Dad’s favorite joke. And, while my Dad was not particularly funny, he did have a pretty warped sense of humor. (thanks, Dad! 🙂 His jokes often had deeper meanings (not sure if that was intentional or not—hopefully, it was ;).  Like, one of his jokes:

A homeless guy is sitting on the steps to the subway selling pencils.  A business guy stops and says, “Ok, I’ll take one. How much”.  And the homeless guy says, “a million bucks”.  And the business guy looks at him and says, “A MILLION BUCKS?  FOR A PENCIL???”  And the homeless guy replies, “Yeah, but I only gotta sell ONE!”  (Now, in this age of crazy political correctness, I am sure that joke is now considered wrong in many ways, but…back in the day… 😀)

But that is not the joke I wanted to use for the thought of the day.  (Actually, I think I may already have—it’s kind of short enough).

Here is the joke:

I have shortened it because it was one of those jokes that went on for 10 minutes so that, in the end, you are kind of pissed off that you took so much of your time for a lousy punch line  (I TOLD you my Dad had a warped sense of humor), but back in the day, it went on forever.

But the gist of it is:

A young boy asks his mother and his father, “what is the meaning of life?”

They tell him, “Wow, that is way beyond us” and steer him to his grandparents, his uncle, his rabbi, his high school teacher, and on and on.

And as he grows, he asks many people he meets, “What is the meaning of life?”, but nobody has a good answer.

He grows up/goes to college. Asks his professors and deans.

He goes into business/becomes successful. Asks all his successful friends, not nobody knows.

Becomes wildly successful. Gets to ask Congressmen and Senators and the President and leaders from all over the world. But still…no succinct answer.

Finally, he is an old man. Some long-time acquaintance tells him, “I have good news and bad news. I have heard about some swami on a mountaintop near Tibet who knows the meaning of life. BUT…it is a long, arduous journey and he really speaks to anyone anymore, so I don’t think you’d be able to make it, and even if you did, doubt you’d get to ask him”.

Undeterred, clearly recognizing his life’s last mission, he heads out towards Tibet. He flies over, takes a car, takes a small bus, and then has to use his cane to walk for days to the temple where this “man who knows” lives.

He finally makes it and asks for an audience, but is told he will have to wait.

“I will wait” he replies and settles in for days, then for weeks and for months until someone comes out and says “he will see you now”.

He walks into the house where the man lives. Nothing fancy. Simple (of course). An old man, nearly naked, in rags, sits on the floor and looks at him, almost as if he’d been expecting this visit, almost like he knew him for centuries.  “How can I help you, brother?”

The man can’t help himself and breaks down in tears.  Finally, he composes himself.  “I have searched my entire life for you. For nearly 100 years I’ve waited for this very moment, oh wise one.  And I have but one simple question for you. He looks up through tears eyes and asks,  “WHAT is the meaning of life?”

The old man looks at him knowingly. Smiles a soft smile and nods. Closes his eyes for a very long time before speaking:  “I will tell you the meaning of life”.

And then, after another very long silence, he speaks in a quiet but confident voice:

“Wild birds can’t fly with wet wings at night”.

The man looks at him, trying to listen fully, to think deeply, to be in this moment, and to absorb the ultimate wisdom that he just heard.  But he can’t.

Can this be the meaning of life??? Wild birds can’t fly with wet wings at night?

He slowly, sadly shakes his head in confusion. Raises his eyes to meet the eyes of this all-knowing man.

“Wild birds can’t fly with wet wings at night? What does that even mean?


The swami looks at him with surprise.



Told ya it was a bad joke.

But I do believe it has a powerful meaning. Don’t hate 😉

Miss ya, Dad.