Lessons Learned: Wisdom is a Virtue, but can Only be Acquired through Experience.

By Dr. Sal Martingano, FICPA


If you could retreat into your ‘time capsule’ just 60 years ago, what would you see?  You would be see and be part of the biggest movement toward prosperity and industrialization this country has ever experienced. It occurred because of the freedoms envisioned by our forefathers and the diligence of our parents to insure it was not forgotten. It was also the birth of the boomer generation.  Yes…we were a wild and numerous bunch that didn’t know we would be such an influence to the world. Boomers were guided by our strong family commitments who attacked life from all angles, yet not disturbing the delicate balance of human nature.  

Boomers like myself became intimately attuned to the philosophy of life, without ever understanding Aristotle or Plato. We had street sense and more importantly an abundance of common sense. More recent generations have become fixated on the “what” or “how” in life. The boomer generation, by necessity, was also fixated on the “why” in life, which is only answerable by exploration…and boy did we exploit it.

This is not a philosophical discussion but is part of what distinguished the boomer generation from other generations before or after. I can remember sitting with the guys on someone’s ‘stoop’ (go look it up) during the long summer evenings always trying to understand why things work the way they do. Why do certain birds travel thousands of miles to essentially do what they can do where they are now? Why does the universe exist; why is there a God and who figured all this out??  

‘Boys of Brooklyn….a time when life never sucked’ is more than a cute title; it captures the individualism that made the boomer generation unique. For most of us, life was more than just having stuff, it was the challenge. We eventually came to understand that there is a balance in life that must be observed or you paid a hefty price.  

My Bensonhurst crew was indeed fortunate to occupy the same place and time together. Our cumulative energies formed a vortex that has remained intact our entire lives. As a generation, we weren’t blinded by ‘herd’ thinking. Our neighborhoods supplied us with the required diversity to make us strong and independent. In comparison, today’s generation, appear to fall prey to anything that sounds good, rather than asking the tough questions.


As a boomer, I find I have to question the motives of a few issues:

• When did “cow farts” become a threat to our environment?
• Basic Earth Science class taught Boomers that global warming and
  global cooling has to do with the natural wobble in the axis of the
  Earth’s orbit that has taken place at least 3 times over millions of
  years before people or animals ever inhabited this planet.


I clearly remember monthly classroom drills, diving under our desks and covering our heads in case of a nuclear blast. Sounds more cartoonish than a viable way to stay alive; fortunately wisdom appeared to have de-escalated the classroom events. Today’s generations are faced with stresses that are theoretical and not readily solvable, some appear created to control populations rather than protect them.  

OK….I’m not getting all political on you here, I’m pointing to the wisdom learned over the ages. Some of this wisdom came from the many experiences you will read in my book: ‘Boys of Brooklyn….a time when life never sucked’. WE, as individuals, were responsible for our actions, our politics, our achievements and our failures. Boomers were consumed by the need to excel without diminishing others. 

The original 5 boys from Brooklyn have all lost our parents and now find ourselves next in line to become the elements of nature; also learned in Earth Science!  I can now appreciate and share the more subtle aspects of life I wasn’t too busy to notice.


1- There are no do-overs in life, only what follows.

2- Competition is often frowned upon for fear of stigmatizing fragile
     minds, whereas the very act of competing, builds character and
     toughens fragile minds. 

3- Life is only forgiving if you enter the correct passcode.

4- Stress can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive,
    based on how we engage and navigate the conflicts. 

5- Stress is a healthy response to life’s challenges, for without it we
    would have no motivation to do anything.

6- The concept that practice makes perfect is flawed. One can practice
    forever and never learn, unless there is reflection on each attempt,
    making the next attempt better than the previous.

7- Success isn’t an accident, it takes perseverance, a belief in your
    gifts and being open to learning.

8- Wisdom is the ability to think and apply knowledge, experience,
    understanding and common sense to any given circumstance.

9- Nature has no solicitude toward success or failure, it is simply
    about survival and thriving or becoming fertilizer.

Now in my 7th decade and essentially reaping the benefits of a lifetime of good planning and the lessons learned from our past, it is no longer necessary to travel wide and far to appreciate what life has to offer; now it is for the pleasure of doing so. I have travelled through the Alaskan wilderness and to the heights of Machu Pacchu, in Peru, in an attempt to experience the diversity that makes life so rewarding.

Come share the experiences and adventures of the “Boys Of Brooklyn…A Time when Life Never Sucked” available on Amazon here.


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