Our first day back in class after Spring Break, the Ides of March. These breaks always feel paradoxically both long and short. Like life, right? But it wouldn’t be a holiday if it didn’t end.
Older Daughter’s just began. Took her to the airport this time yesterday, she’s spending her Spring Break working the South by Southwest fest in Austin and documenting it in Snapchat snatches. Wish we were there for real.
But we’re happy to be here, with Pascal and Spinoza in CoPhi, stem cells in Bioethics, and Alain de Botton on our need for beautiful art, architecture, and secular ritual. He says writing books is futile, if you want to change the world. But how can any reader believe that? Of course sharing ideas makes a difference, in the lives of reflective people, and in the long run in every life. We have to believe that.
“Lifelong learners” believe it, and believe in the long run. I’m doing a distillation of the Happiness course in May for our College of Liberal Arts Lifelong Learning program. John Dewey said it pithily and best: “I believe that education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” It’s never too late to learn, it’s always too soon to stop. That’s why we write, to learn, teach, and live.
Of course life, like writing, requires nurture and cultivation. Earth Week’s coming, to remind us that if we want to save the world we can’t just write about it. Bill McKibben knows that. In the long run though, my guess is, his books will be acknowledged as having made as big a difference as anything.
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