One of the best parts of writing in a library—the only place I seem able to do so—is that it's loaded with books. And, as Samuel Johnson once said, “[t]he greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write: a man [sic] will turn over half a library to make one book.”
So once in the library, and before I haul my Mac and backpack of writing files up the stairs—to the relatively quiet area—I browse the first floor stacks and pick out a book to take with me.
Now the book always has something to do with what I’m currently writing, usually an essay or three I hope to eventually publish. And so two days ago, I found and started reading Joan Chittister’s Following The Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy. I’m not even sure why I chose it, except that I’ve read other of her books, and some of her articles, and find her both interesting and often provocative.
So on Tuesday, when it came time to stop writing and start reading, I opened the book to page 35 and read this: “What fills the heart with happiness, ironically enough, is not what we get out of the world; it’s what we put into it. Being about something worthwhile, spending our lives on something worth spending a life on is what, in the end, makes us happy.”
Now this is not news to me. After all, I’ve spent the last 30 years reading, writing, and teaching people how to write their personal stories. All of it has made me pretty damn happy, and has also felt worthwhile.
But for the last two years now—as I continue headlong into Act 3 of my long life—I’ve been in the midst of some kind of transition, one that could possibly take me back to graduate school, and with a different focus than either my BA in Psychology or MA in English Literature. What I’m considering—and I emphasize considering--is an MA in Social Justice.
Because once again it seems that everything old is new again. And so the fire in my old lady belly—a fire lit back in my twenties—is starting to flame again, tentatively, but also a bit urgently.
Because, as we know, there is no Act 4.
NOTE: The title of this blog is taken from Joan Chittister’s introduction to her book mentioned above.
This book is meant to give someone in the process of making a life decision at any age—in early adulthood, at the point of middle-age change and later, when we find ourselves at the crossroads without a name—some ideas against which to pit their own minds, their own circumstances. Its purpose, as they wrestle with the process of trying to find and follow their own special call at this new stage of life, is to both provoke thinking and to clarify it. —Joan Chittister