Adding voices

Late to the starting gate today. We were out celebrating our anniversary, and taxiing the girls back from the multiplex (“Ironman” thumbs down, “Gatsby” just ok). And it’s summertime, the living is supposed to be easy. Spent much of yesterday putting up the pool, with “Porgy & Bess” for company. Today I’ll blow up the floats and soon we’ll all be adrift, like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.

lunchboxStill thinking about milestones, endings and beginnings. One of the more nutritive things I packed into Older Daughter’s graduation lunchbox, along with many other words of unsolicited advice from many voices (and with a bag of goldfish and a Hershey bar, just because a lunchbox ought to have something at least barely edible in it) was Ann Patchett’s little book of commencement wisdom, What Now? It’s based on her Sarah Lawrence  speech a few years back.

Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.

If you’re trying to find out what’s coming next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen.

…our future is open, we may well do more than anyone expected of us, at every point in our development we are still striving to grow.

Sarah Lawrence is Ann’s alma mater, so part of her rumination is on the value of coming home.

Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours–long hallways and unforeseen stairwells–eventually puts you in the place you are now.

Back to those voices: my favorite part of What Now? is Patchett’s “secret,” no secret to us pragmatic pluralists (and isn’t that a nice image of the walker’s dilemma, on the cover? More on that later):

The secret is to keep adding voices, adding ideas, and moving things around as you put together your life. If you’re lucky, putting together your life is a annpatchett_whatnowprocess that will last through every single day you’re alive.

And sometimes putting together your life just involves putting together your pool.

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