I recently read Anna Quindlen’s book A Short Guide to a Happy Life. I’ve been contemplating some professional changes of my own, and the below passage really spoke to me. So, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy. Happy Friday.
“Here is my resume. It’s not what my professional bio says, proud as I am of all that:
I am a good mother to three good children. I have tried to never let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself at 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 my marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them I would have nothing of interest to say to anyone, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
I would be rotten, or 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 I suppose the best piece of advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: 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 these things if you developed an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast while in the shower?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finter.
Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present.
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 I look at my diploma, I remember that I am still a student, still learning every day how to be human. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your mom. Hug your dad.
Get a life in which you are generous… And realize that life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take the money you would have spent on beers in a bar and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Tutor a seventh-grader.
All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.”