Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This is one of my favorite speeches by one of my favorite writers Anna Quindlen. I needed to me reminded of it myself today along with the message on this button.
I think it also appears in her book: A Short Guide To A Happy Life. Seems like a good time of year to share it:
I am 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 soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to craft a resume than craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter night, or when your 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 these things were not true. You cannot really be first rate at your work, if your work is all you are.
So, here is 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 much for those things if you blew an aneurysm one day, or found a lump in your breast?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of the 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 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 the 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.
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 to try to give some of it back, because I believe in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that in part, by telling others what I learned. By telling them this:
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.


photo by timilings on flickr

14 comments:

Cloudia said...

Thanks Yo!



Aloha, Friend


Comfort Spiral

Shelby said...

perfect. thank you so much for sharing that.

ellen said...

Oh, thank you and thank you. This is wonderful.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

This is fabulous! I have never read it before, but can tell you that I will pass this along...both in the words and hopefully, through living what it says!

Char said...

i needed to read this today

Karen Deborah said...

beautiful, and life is a terminal illness we all die. The only thing we take with us is what we did for others and our relationship to God.

I love this post.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

The message is perfect. I don't know how it could be said any better.

An Imperfect Perfection said...

What a wonderful message. I will be thinking of this for a long time to come.

Liss said...

Wow that was written so well, I'm hook and want to write that on my next resume.

Society needs to start judging people for who they are and not what they are worth. The world would be a much happier place if we all took a leaf out of this book.

Cindy said...

Thanks so much for this post! Really enjoyed it and a great way to start my day! :)

Connie said...

My DEAR friend,
Thank you so much for this for today...feeling a bit blue and this is great!!!

PERBS said...

What a wonderful philosophy!

karen said...

that is so inspirational, thank you :)

Cedar ... said...

Beautiful post, Yo!