Get a life!

Posted: March 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

My brother sent this to me via email… found it meaningful…

Speech by Pulitzer Prize winner: Anna Quindlen

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.

“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.

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 they 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 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 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”.


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