Tuesday, October 27, 2009

get a life - Anna Quindlen

"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 in 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 you bank accounts, but also your soul.

"People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. Its 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 when you're lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

"Here's my resume: I'm 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'm 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 them to me. Without them, there would ne 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 want to tell you all today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm 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 how 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 e-mail. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And, realise 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 colour of our kid's eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist in stead of to live.

"I learnt to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learnt that it is not a dress rehearsal, and today is the only guarantee you get. I learnt to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I belived 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 lillies on 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."


This was a speech made by Pulitzer award winning author Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university, where she was awarded an honorary PhD.

... No, I don't think there are any comparisons or connections with the speech and pictures. Just that these words give me hope, inspire me and make me thankful!!


Shalini said...

What a fantastic way to view one's life! Inspiring and heartfelt.

And you my dear girl are simply gorgeous. Some people have an innate elegance to them, something that comes across effortlessly and you have it.

I loved all your photos, esp the one where your son is cradled so lovingly in your lap.

shilpa said...

I know, I received this in the mail and I read it like four times in six hours.

thank you sindhu, for sending this to me!

thanks for thinking me elegant! btw,I am pregnant wherever abi is not visible :D

asha said...

What a lovely post and lovely pictures that really do go so well with the prose! A precious reminder.

You know you're on the right track :) They are two blessed children there in the pics. Blessed,cos they have a mom who reminds herself and keeps priorities in spite of all the resistance.
Thanks. I enjoyed this article with the lovely pics so much.

shilpa said...

lol! I hope to get on the right track by reading it over and over again!!

asha said...

I meant it wholly when I said you are on the right track :)
Reminding ourselves and constant refocussing is the only way we can keep to our chosen path.

shilpa said...

if you could see me now, feeling all nice about it...


sometimes refocussing and retreating hurts, but that is the only way life goes on!!

Srivilasica said...

Saw this just now. Wonderful! I know I sent it to you but you have put it up so nicely here.

shilpa said...

yes, so that typing all the words would, hopefully, engrave it in memeory :D

Random Thoughts said...

loved this post...especially made sense to me because i do not have a conventional job...and none of the trappings of a conventional lifestyle... yet am content...and when people ask me what i do... i sometimes like to tell them i am enjoying life while i still can... your pics are lovely... thanks for sharing them with us...and thanks for all the kind words on 365... i appreciate your encouragement!

shilpa said...

thank you, too :)