I started thinking about proverbs this week with regards to my ongoing fund-raising campaign for my book: Wings Are Handy Things. If you wish to donate you can check it out here.


I’m thinking of the proverb: Many a mickle makes a muckle. Do you know it? It’s a way of saying that many small quantities make up a large quantity. The words mickle and muckle derive from old English words that are Germanic and Icelandic in origin but generally thought of as being Scottish.

The only thing is that the proverb is a mistake. Wordsmiths agree that mickle does not mean “little”. In fact, mickle and muckle both mean large quantities. Ah well, never mind. We’ll carry on saying the proverb anyway because it’s the poetry of those words that help it stick in the mind.


Where love reigns, the impossible may be attained: Indian Proverb


In the early 1990’s I was busking on Vancouver’s Granville Street. Experience had shown me that on different days the street population, of shoppers, tourists and business people, would all become cast under the same spell putting everyone into a similar mood. I never figured out how or why this happened: it was not connected to the weather, the news, or the time of day.


I placed these moods into four main categories:


1 People would like my music AND generously dig into their pockets (if I knew what caused this I would only go busking on those days).


2 People would notice my music and smile – but very little would come in the form of coins into my ukulele case (very frustrating but I’d keep playing anyway in case the mood changed – which it rarely did).


3 People would seem strangely distracted. They moved quickly and didn’t have the time or disposition to smile or listen BUT, in their addled state, they momentarily stopped to throw something my way (this was bizarre behaviour – but I liked it).


4 People would be distracted AND tight-fisted. They didn’t care about me or my music and I may as well have not been there (a miserable situation for any musician. You’d think the wise busker would pack up, go home and try again another day. But no, he carries on like a gambler at a slot machine believing that the pay-out must come at any moment.)


A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a learned fool the taste of wisdom: Welsh Proverb


It was on one of these number 4 days, when the lack of reward for my efforts was shrouding my musical soul with listlessness and ennui, that I looked up to see a young man with Down’s syndrome holding a twenty-five-cent coin up to my face. He smiled and said, “Think, if everyone gave you a quarter, you’d be rich.”


What you see in yourself is what you see in the world: Afghan Proverb


I wanted to be annoyed but I couldn’t. He wasn’t mocking me. He was too genuine and kind. I already knew that many a mickle makes a muckle but, the way he expressed this bit of wisdom, made it sink in and stick with me forever.


Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone: Moroccan Proverb


Ever since then I’ve always been grateful for every small gift that comes my way. If I wanted, I could make myself miserable by comparing each small gesture to whatever larger amount I’d rather have given, but I don’t.


If you can’t live longer, live deeper: Italian Proverb


As for my crowdfunded book I am getting close to having half the amount needed to pay production costs but, interestingly to me, it’s nearly all from a few readers who have gone for either Option B or Option C ($50 or $100).


There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out: Russian Proverb


One person has gone for Option D: that of writing a piece to go in the book (by the way it would be great to have a few more of these to flesh out the chapter so keep ’em coming) but I’m mostly surprised at how few people have gone for Option A: the option to donate the amount of your choice no matter how small. I would have thought more would have gone for that.


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together: African Proverb


If you are someone who wants to donate but for whatever reason can only put aside a small amount, I’m letting you know this is okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, it’s what crowdfunding is for. I see it as a kind of online busking (which is the only kind I can do at the moment due to ongoing elder care) and it’s all very much appreciated.


When the sun rises, it rises for everyone: Cuban Proverb.


All I have left to say is I’ve so enjoyed finding these lovely proverbs from around the world that I’ll leave you with a few more to tickle your imagination:


It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness: Chinese Proverb


Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow: Swedish Proverb


Strife is better than loneliness:  Irish Proverb   


He who always thinks it is too soon is sure to come too late: German Proverb


The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour: Japanese Proverb


In a battle between elephants, the ants get squashed: Thai Proverb


If you take big paces, you leave big spaces: Burmese Proverb

(I don’t really get this one – does it mean that if you take big paces you miss out on the little things in life or is it that big paces do less damage? Anyone know?)


A large chair does not make a king: Sudanese Proverb


Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you: New Zealander Proverb


No man can paddle two canoes at the same time: Bantu Proverb


Fall seven times, stand up eight: Japanese Proverb


If you go to a donkey’s house, don’t talk about ears: Jamaican Proverb


Speak the truth, but leave immediately after: Slovenian Proverb


Hahaha, those last two made me laugh out loud.


Keep Strumming and Smiling,





Head to RalphShaw.co.uk to make a donation or get in the book


Thank you for your kindness and support always.