This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen, at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.
Most brilliant, to get all of us thinking....
"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk or your life on a bus or in a car or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.
People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.
Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and them to me.
Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre, at my job if those other things were not true.
You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon or found a lump in your breast?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.
It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.
I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face.
Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived"
Thanks HH (and Salleh K2) for sharing it with us. Ya, it's a beautiful and moving piece,ReplyDelete
AM@Besut...i know I have some classmates from Besut...either ex MCKK or SABS...cannot remember which exactly...but I definitely do have! Regards.ReplyDelete
Anyone had read any of Anna Quindlen's books before? I must admit that I had not heard of her until I read that speech of hers. Made a search and browsed thru one of the sites http://www.annaquindlen.com/ReplyDelete
Amazing personality! Thought of getting hold one of her books but not sure whether I should start with a fiction or a non-fiction. Dah lama tak baca buku. Can anyone recommend?
HH - if you had a mckk classmate from Besut, probably my elder brother might know. There was only 1 English school kat Besut around that time (TMS - Tengku Mahmod School).
What an insightful piece, H. I'll send it off to Larnee, at work. Work is not being kind to her right now, and she needs a chin-up. And this is just the thing to help her get some perspective.ReplyDelete
'I learned to love the journey, not the destination.'
Not many people can understand or appreciate this. But I do. And I know it is true. All of life is a thrill when you can wrap your mind around this line.
Thank you for giving me the heads-up that this was here. I'm playing catch-up with your posts today :)
Been following your writing for quite awhile, since first time from LKS's bloq.ReplyDelete
Enjoy MOST of the point that you brought up.Do respect your opinion, though at best of all at certain juncture, its better to AGREE to DISAGREE.
This one sure is what most people should consider, for all the rat race that they are in.
The best part about being in CYBERSPACE is to say your piece and let your readers judge if need be.
Please do continue ...