Monday, May 23, 2016

Couch Commencement

Last week was a busy week, and by Friday, I was feeling a bit depleted.  I had checked out Mary Karr's Now Go Out There (and get curious) several weeks ago and knew it was due the next day.  I opened it up, hoping for a shot of inspiration.  This slim volume is Karr's commencement speech at Syracuse (where she has been a professor for many years) on one side and a cool sunburst flip book on the other.  I read most of it on my couch before leaving to work at a kindergarten picnic.  I finished the rest in my minivan.

If you have fifteen minutes and the desire to be inspired, I suggest you read it.

Some of my favorite insights:

"But don't make the mistake of comparing your twisted-up insides to other people's blow-dried outsides."  

Perfect advice in these days of curated life moments on Facebook, Instagram, and the other scary social media spots I don't even understand.

"'This hard spell might be the start of something truly great I can't foresee right now because I'm scared shitless.'"

Mary Karr wants you to tell yourself the above when times are tough.  This lesson is definitely one that you understand more fully as you age, but it's also one that is so easy to forget when you're in the midst of a hard, scary time.

"Being smart and rich are lucky, but being curious and compassionate will save your ass.  Being curious and compassionate can take you out of your ego and edge your soul towards wonder."

Who can argue against curiosity or compassion?

Please don't think that I've cited all the good stuff here and that you don't need to read Now Go Out There (and get curious).  There are a couple great anecdotes, plus honesty, humor, and a message you can take with you.  And, again, it's only fifteen minutes.

Get it at your library or buy it as a graduation gift (though great advice is often wasted on the young) and read it first.

Last year around this time, I read J.K. Rowling's commencement speech book, Very Good Lives:  The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of the Imagination.  I think commencement speech reading will be a new May tradition for me.  Why not listen to what great thinkers have to say to newly-minted grown-ups?  It's never too late to change course or to at least see your journey or mission in a new light.  Sometimes we all need a little help to light our fires.

P.S. -- Another May pick-me-up has been wearing the floral-printed Pumas in the photo above.  Found them at Kohl's on one of the only days of the year an extra discount was not on offer, but bought them anyway because I heart them so.

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