Don’t confuse your life and your work

A few months ago I received an email about a Commencement address by Anna Quindlen and I never got around to looking into it.


“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 minds, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.” (A current reference for the idea of being the “captain of one’s soul” captured in the movie Invictus in which Nelson Mandela recites the poem of the same title by William Ernest Henley)

“Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. (…) 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, still 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”

“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.”

Here’s the back story:

Two years ago, Villanova University asked author and Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen to deliver the commencement address. She declined, she says, when a group of conservative students threatened to demonstrate against her well-known liberal views. “I don’t think you should have to walk through demonstrators to get to your college commencement.”

But the world was not deprived of Quindlen’s wisdom. She e-mailed the speech to a Villanova graduate who was disappointed not to have heard it. It found its way onto the Internet and within a few months people everywhere were talking about it.

Quindlen expanded the speech into the book called A Short Guide to a Happy Life. The book became a best seller and more than a half a million copies are in print.

via ABC News.

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