Moving on through literatureJuly 10, 2009
Five years. Just saying that aloud seems crazy to me; five years seems like a lifetime, especially when I haven’t lived that many years to begin with. In retrospect, however, those five years have flown by in a blur.
This will be my last article as a staff member of the Hastings Public Library. Typing those words fills me with a sense of sadness as I think back over my time working here, and all the wonderful memories and people I am sure never to forget. But as it does, life keeps moving forward, and my time remaining in Hastings is slowly drawing to a close. In August I will move on, on to a new and different experience.
In honor of this transition, and to honor transitions you may be facing as well, I decided to dedicate this last article to books that have inspired me, in hopes that these authors’ words of wisdom will guide me and you along our way.
A book I relied heavily on this past year tries to answer the question most college graduates avoid like the plague “What Should I Do with My Life?” The author, Po Bronson was himself struggling with this question when he had the inspiration for this book, which chronicles the lives of fifty-five individuals who struggled with their own choices of destiny, vocation, and calling.
Along with this book is Cheryl Richardson’s “Take Time for Your Life”. Richardson uses a 7 step program to enable us to create, and live, the life we want. Her steps include reflecting on what drains us, what nurtures us, and the importance of building a strong community that sustains and supports.
As well as finding out what to do with your life, which paths to take, I have also found gems of wisdom in discerning just what, exactly, should be deemed important in this lifetime. These words of wisdom come from some familiar faces and characters, such as “The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember”, by the loved children’s television host, and “The Velveteen Principles: Hidden Wisdom from a Children’s Classic”, by Toni Raiten-D’Antonio, based on the well-known children’s story of the Velveteen Rabbit.
Three small but powerful books illustrate for the reader how to live more deeply, more fully, in this world. “Letter to a Great Grandson: A Message of Love, Advice, and Hopes for the Future”, by Hugh Downs, is a letter Downs penned to his brand-new grandson, to be read at the different stages of his grandson’s life. Maria Shriver’s “Just who Will You Be?” advises the reader that its not what you do in this life that matters, but who you are, and that it is never too late to actualize this within yourself. And, though only 50 pages long, Anna Quindlen’s “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”, contains brilliantly worded messages to the reader for how to live in this world, instead of just existing in it.
One of my favorite books, perfect for any major change or transition, and one I have read a thousand times over is, of course, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”, by Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss chronicles a life full of both ups and downs, adventures and thrills, in the standard rhyme pattern he became famous for. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” has always provided me with a sense of joy and hope. I leave you with my favorite lines: “So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”