I wish that I had writing skills...sadly I don't...but what I do have is a passion for things that are written well and I can find them and keep in my possession until I feel compelled to share them. I am sorry...this is a bit long...but worth the time to read...especially with a brand new year ahead of us.
Happy New Year!!!
The following is a commencement
address to the graduating class at Villanova
University by author Anna Quindlen
. It came to me in an email newsletter
and I was so moved by its message that I'm passing it on to everyone
I possibly can - It's so very appropriate. particularly as we begin a new year.
"It's a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an honorary doctorate from this great university. It's an honor to follow my great-Uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician, and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today. 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. The second is only part of the first. Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas
when the senator decided not to run for re-election because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: 'No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.' Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: 'If you win the rat race, you're still a rat.'"Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in his driveway of The Dakota: 'Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
"You 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 account, but 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 a cold comfort on a winter
night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've gotten back
the test results and they're not so good.
"Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried to never
to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer
consider myself the center 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 show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
"I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be
nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen.I try to laugh."
I would be rotten, or 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 manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, 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 over Seaside
Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles
over the water gap, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she
tries to pick up a Cheerio 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. "Each time you look at
your diploma, remember that you are still a student, learning how to best treasure
your connection to others. "Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. 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 beers 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, our minutes.It is so easy
to take for granted the color 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 living. I learned to live many years ago.
"Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in
ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all.And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all
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 to 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, the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard
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. Well, you can learn all those things
, out there, if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life,yes, but another life, too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other
human beings. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
"Here you could learn
in the classroom. There the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the
very end. No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at
"I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney
Island maybe 15years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive
in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports
, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule
, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone,sleeping in a church when the temperature went to freezing, hiding from the police
amidst the Tilt or Whirl or some other seasonal ride."He told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water
, just the way we were sitting now even when it got cold and he had to wear
his newspapers after he read them. "And I asked him why. Why didn't he go
to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for
a detox? And he just stared out at the ocean and said, 'Look at the view
,young lady. Look at the view."
And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at
the view. And that's the last thing I have to tell you today, words of wisdom
from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be
"Look at the view. You'll never be disappointed."