Good advice from Joan Didion

I’m reading SIX MONTHS IN SUDAN, an account of James Maskalyk’s time in Sudan with MSF. Before I even began reading the book, I had to digest this quote from American author, Joan Didion, part of a commencement address at the University of California, 1975:

“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”

Profound advice, succinctly put; although not phrased so beautifully, it’s advice I often find myself trying to give my own kids. Unfortunately, they don’t always receive it as gratefully as I think they should…

One of my favorite things about reading is coming upon gems of wisdom the author has woven into the story, often only as a single sentence, but a sentence I find myself reading several times, marveling at its profundity (I’ve never written that word before, but it’s perfect!). I don’t think I’ve acquired that skill yet, but it’s something to work toward.

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