Anna Quindlen

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at a graduation ceremony of Wright State University where she was awarded an Honorary PhD:

It’s a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an honorary doctorate from this great university. It’s an honor to follow my great-uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician, and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today. 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. The second is only part of the first. Don’t ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he’d been diagnosed with cancer: “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.”

Don’t ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: “If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

You 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 the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re 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 show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

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 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 here’s 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 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, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of the azaleas, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live.

I learned to live many years ago. Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all.

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 believed 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 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.

Well, you can learn all those things, out there, if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life, yes, but another life, too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Here you could learn in the classroom. There the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end.

No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.

I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island maybe 15 years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amidst the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides.

But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now, even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them.

And I asked him why. Why didn’t he go to one of the shelters? Why didn’t he check himself into the hospital for detox?

And he just stared out at the ocean and said, “Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view.” And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view.

And that’s the last thing I have to tell you today, words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be.

Look at the view. You’ll never be disappointed.


Who wants to be a billionaire?

Forbes has released the latest 2008 list of the richest people:

Name Citizenship Age Worth ($bil) Residence
1 Warren Buffett US 77 62 United States
2 Carlos Slim Helu Mexico 68 60 Mexico
3 William Gates III US 52 58 United States
4 Lakshmi Mittal India 57 45 United Kingdom
5 Mukesh Ambani India 50 43 India
6 Anil Ambani India 48 42 India
7 Ingvar Kamprad Sweden 81 31 Switzerland
8 KP Singh India 76 30 India
9 Oleg Deripaska Russia 40 28 Russia
10 Karl Albrecht Germany 88 27 Germany
11 Li Ka-shing HK 79 26.5 Hong Kong
12 Sheldon Adelson US 74 26 United States
13 Bernard Arnault France 59 25.5 France
14 Lawrence Ellison US 63 25 United States
15 Roman Abramovich Russia 41 23.5 Russia
16 Theo Albrecht Germany 85 23 Germany
17 Liliane Bettencourt France 85 22.9 France
18 Alexei Mordashov Russia 42 21.2 Russia
19 Prince Alwaleed SA 51 21 Saudi Arabia
20 Mikhail Fridman Russia 43 20.8 Russia
21 Vladimir Lisin Russia 51 20.3 Russia
22 Amancio Ortega Spain 72 20.2 Spain
23 Raymond, Thomas HK NA 19.9 Hong Kong
24 Mikhail Prokhorov Russia 42 19.5 Russia
25 Vladimir Potanin Russia 47 19.3 Russia

Looks like Billy boy has slipped to third. Three Indians now make the top 10, if the Ambani brothers had decided not to split the Ambani group they would have been at the top comfortably.

The world’s youngest billionaire at 23, Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder of Facebook whose is worth $ 1.5bn, and Google top brass Sheryl Sandberg recently joined FB as the new COO.

Social Online Networking

Social Online Networking a not-so new phenomenon that has taken on the world, just as PC and console games have moved on to MMOG with WOW being one of the most popular.

I recently exited FB for it just didn’t make sense, at least for now. On which a colleague exclaimed, “the whole world is on FB”. Well the whole world is on MySpace, Bebo, Twitter, Hi5, Friendster, the whole world was once on Orkut, and after some time something else will crop up and the blinded human zombies will jump to that.

When I joined FB it promised privacy all over and where you could communicate with your own niche circle: close friends, good friends, and relatives in a trusted secure environment.

Unfortunately, the concept was hijacked and turned into whose profile is better or ‘look ma I have 10^n friends’ where n approaches infinity. How can you have xxx friends and maintain privacy! Or what’s your point of being there.

Well, the initial excitement was there and you follow the trend. You wonder whether you are there to showcase your online foot print. People add you but three months down the line you haven’t even scrapped each other.

Talking about privacy, FB by default if you are on similar networks makes your profile fully accessible which I fortunately discovered recently, and realized someone could have been spying on me all along without me knowing. Blame it on me, for my lack of knowledge. But then mastering FB is a challenge on its own as it has hundreds of settings.

I have nothing to hide and could have ‘what the heck let em check’, I could have probably gone to a no network scenario and avoid such occurrence but trust is built on honesty and ethics and not gimmicks. If you want to know something go to the source directly you will know more. But then as they say there is no cure for suspicion!

May be, “I’ll be back”, or as I see it FB is just another fade.

Women – Impossible

A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband.

Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the store ONLY ONCE!!!

There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights.

There is, however, a catch. …. You may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband…

On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1 – These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads:
Floor 2 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads:
Floor 3 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking. ‘ Wow,’ she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:
Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead good looking and help with the housework. ‘Oh, mercy me!’ she exclaims, ‘I can hardly stand it!’

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:
Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 – ‘You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.

Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!!!!

Send this to all men for a good laugh and to all the women who can handle the truth !!!!!


Source: via email, copied as it is.