February 27, 2008

Anna Quindlen's Words for Simplifiers

Back in 2002, or maybe 2000, Anna Quindlen allegedly gave a commencement address at Villanova University, and what she purportedly said that day (and if she didn't, I wish she had) encouraged me, and I thought it might do the same for others who are out there, simplifying their lives today -- here's an excerpt:

"...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 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 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. Look around at the azaleas in the suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. 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 ...."

The entire speech is too long for this little blog post, but I really encourage you to take the time and read it, word for word (click here).

I hope her words give you what they gave me: a reminder of how far I've come on this road to a simple, happy, peaceful and joy-filled life. Hurray!!!
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