Buckaroo Banzai? Peter Weller? Earl Mac Rauch? Thomas à Kempis? W. H. Hutchings? Jim Russell? Jacqueline? C. Gordon Furbish? Jon Kabat-Zinn? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following saying is a profound guideline for mindfulness meditation; alternatively, it is a fun absurdist joke. Here are three versions:
Wherever you go, there you are.
No matter where you go, there you are.
Wherever you go, you will always find yourself.
The 1984 movie “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” included this line, but I think this adage was already in circulation. Would you please explore this topic.
Quote Investigator: The earliest close match known to QI appeared in 1955 within the “Hazleton Collegian” periodical published by students attending Pennsylvania State University. A section titled “Oddities” printed humorous items from the community. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1955 March 4, Hazleton Collegian, Volume 17, Number 21, Humor: Oddities, Quote Page 4, The Pennsylvania State University Center, Highacres Hazleton, Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive at … Continue reading
Jim Russell wants to know why it is that no matter where you go, there you are.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
1955 March 4, Hazleton Collegian, Volume 17, Number 21, Humor: Oddities, Quote Page 4, The Pennsylvania State University Center, Highacres Hazleton, Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive at panewsarchive.psu.edu; accessed November 22, 2020) link
John Lennon? Allen Saunders? Quin Ryan? Walter Ward? Henry Cooke? Robert Balzer? L. S. McCandless? Publilius Syrus? Thomas a Kempis? William Gaddis?
Question for Quote Investigator: Recently, a medical emergency threw all my carefully constructed plans into complete disarray. I was reminded of a remarkably astute and ruefully humorous saying credited to the musical superstar John Lennon:
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
When did he say this? Was he the first to express this idea?
Reply from Quote Investigator: John Lennon did compose a song containing this saying and released it in 1980. The song was called “Beautiful Boy” or “Darling Boy” and it was part of the album “Double Fantasy”. Lennon wrote the lyrics about his experiences with his son Sean whose mother is Yoko Ono. In 2012 YouTube had a streamable version of the song, and the phrase could be heard at 2 minutes 16 seconds into the track which had a total length of 4 minutes 12 seconds. Lennon sang the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: YouTube video, Title: John Lennon – Beautiful Boy, Uploaded by TheInnerRevolution on Nov 22, 2009. (Accessed at youtube.com on May 4, 2012; video removed after this date)
Before you cross the street take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
But the general expression can be traced back more than two decades before this time. The first known appearance was in an issue of Reader’s Digest magazine dated January 1957. The statement was printed together with nine other unrelated sayings in a section called “Quotable Quotes”: 1957 January, Reader’s Digest, Quotable Quotes, Page 32, The Reader’s Digest Association. (Verified on paper)
Allen Saunders: Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.
The newspaper comic strip “Steve Roper” was written by an individual named Allen Saunders and distributed by Publishers Syndicate. It is likely that the attribution above was referencing him. Saunders also worked on the strips “Mary Worth” and “Kerry Drake.” But the saying has not yet been located in any of these comics. Three important reference works list the Reader’s Digest citation to Saunders: The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Page 145, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper) , The Quote Verifier 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Page 123-124 and 305, St Martin’s Griffin, New York. (Verified on paper) , and The Yale Book of Quotations. 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section Allen Saunders, Page 666, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.