Editor’s note: Gazette columnist Arnie Reisman died a year ago, on Oct. 4, 2021. The following is an excerpt from a speech he gave to a group of college students not long before he died.

I don’t think anyone here would be the least bit surprised to learn that my resume reads like it was written by an entire neighborhood. Each time I meet someone new, at a party or event, I’m usually asked: “And what do you do?”

This usually occurs after they first meet or see my wife, Paula Lyons. For 25 years she was on TV as a respectable consumer reporter. Respectable, because her major gift is believability. They don’t come more honest or more honorable. Then they notice me.

“And what do you do?” they ask.

My wife falls silent and cups her ear, waiting to hear what I’m going to say — this time. You see, each time I’m asked that question, I usually have a different answer. A true one, but an ever-changing one.

It all comes down to this: I believe it’s not what you do for a living, but rather who you are while you’re living. It’s all about character, not career. It’s about dancing to your own tune.

Since graduating college, I have been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king — no, that’s Frank Sinatra’s resume.

I’ve been a reporter, a movie reviewer, a theatre reviewer, a television critic, an entertainment reporter, a newspaper editor, a college professor, a television writer, a television producer, a radio performer, a playwright a poet and a documentary filmmaker.

I’ve served in political campaigns, on nonprofit boards and in corporate think tanks. So, you can see “Transitions” is my middle name. How did all this happen? No, why did all this happen?

There are many reasons. First of all, I seem to get bored easily.

I’m curious and like to learn new things. I don’t seem to be driven by money. Or, at least, I have not cared about making a lot of it. Some may consider this a virtue. My wife may see this as a character flaw. Yet, there’s a thread, a through-line, to what I’ve done. There’s something to do with the arts buried in all this. It’s all about words and pictures, but mainly words.

Also, most of the time I’ve been my own boss. That’s been good. I don’t mind being ruled, but I just don’t like being overruled. In my lines of work I haven’t really overcome adversity. On the other hand, I’ve had a lot of experience overcoming annoyance and arrogance and abusive authority.

I’ve found the easiest way to do this is with humor. Laughter may not keep you employed but I’m told it can add years to your life. And it certainly can give you a better outlook on life.

Let me quote my mentor, Kurt Vonnegut. Of course, he didn’t know he was my mentor, but his wit and wisdom definitely shaped me.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”