Lilies Of The Field

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Oxford, Jun 11, 2002.

  1. Oxford

    Oxford G&G Evangelist

    Commencement speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen
    at Villanova University

    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
    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
    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 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 I meet them for lunch. 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 a 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 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. Pick up the
    phone. Send an e-mail. 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 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 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

    Consider the lilies of the field. Look at 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.

    -- Anna Quindlen

  2. I am humbled, thank you Oxford.