12/16/2010 11:23 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Year-End Wisdom That Matters

Hey, anybody want to broadcast your thoughts, however inane, to all of humanity? Anybody want to waste the world's time by sharing your unfiltered opinions and unsolicited advice—just because you can? You're in luck! Here's the Facebook—tell us what amazing things you're doing! Here's your own blog—chronicle your fascinating life! Here's the Twitter—do that! Hell, here's your own television show—tell us about Alaska!

The Me Generation has given way to the Hear Me Generation, and it's getting a little annoying. Sure, it's alluring, being able to speak as loud as anyone else in the world as long as you have a smartphone and functioning thumbs. But the problem with your Tweeting next-door neighbor and your Facebooking friends and nattering TV pundits and radio hosts and reality-TV people and bloggers all talking at the same volume is that we can't hear anyone. And who wants to, anyway?

The January issue of Esquire—we call it the Meaning of Life issue—is an antidote to the status update, the tribal council, the rant, and all the other daily messages we receive whether we want to or not. The issue contains wisdom—the solicited wisdom of seventeen luminaries in the worlds of film, music, food, politics, comedy, and writing. (And also, Dr. Ruth.) People who are living remarkable lives, who have things to say, and who think before they speak because they know the world can't bear any more useless information. People like Robert De Niro. President George H.W. Bush. Yoko Ono. Robert Redford. Aaron Sorkin. Ferran Adria. Danny De Vito. Samuel L. Jackson. Jodie Foster. Robert Duvall. And more. They are people who have shaped our culture and influenced our lives in ways large and small but always meaningful. People who will never be replaced, because their contributions have been wholly original.

A few quotes from the issue:

"It's interesting when your kids give you advice. I had a conversation with my oldest son the other day. He was saying, 'You should do this...and this...and this.' Not that I agreed with him on everything. But it was a good feeling." —Robert De Niro

"I desperately need the love of complete strangers. That's one reason I overtip. I love when skycaps, waiters, and valets are happy to see me." —Aaron Sorkin

"No regrets. But there have been things that are worth regretting." —Mary-Louise Parker

"A horse is not like a dog. It don't love ya." —Robert Duvall

"Jimmy [Carter] was terrible to George, so I didn't ever appreciate that. You don't criticize a successor and other presidents. I wouldn't, and he did. He got very personal about George, and I never appreciated that." —George H.W. Bush

"Americans are told they can be the next president of the United States. In Britain, we're told, 'It won't happen to you. Don't be stupid. Don't even try.' " —Ricky Gervais

"People don't remember who the critics were." —Robert Redford

"We're an odd animal that understands there's an end. My dog doesn't know she's going to die. She can't. If she knew she was going to die, she would know how to drive." —Albert Brooks

Wholly original interviews with wholly original people—boiled down to just their words, their essence. Read the issue. Enjoy it. Then, if you like, Tweet the hell out of it.