In her book, What now?, Ann Patchett shares her educational and professional journey as she moved from hopeful high school student to successful author. Originally her commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College, Ann's insights and perspective about the ever-looming question, "What now?" are both wise and inspiring.
In a time when life is shifting faster than we can imagine, the simplicity of college life seems easy in comparison. Yet, from the eyes of our younger days, we can remember just how pivotal each and every decision seemed at the time. This college or that? What major should I choose?
And what about those times when we felt alone and afraid? With wisdom and hindsight, Ann points out that, "Sometimes the circumstances at hand force us to be braver than we actually are, and so we knock on doors and ask for assistance. Sometimes not having any idea where we're going works out better than we could possibly have imagined."
With all the changes happening in our lives today - even though it seems to be happening to many of us simultaneously - we can often feel very alone. Moreover, as adults who are supposed to 'have it all together', we can sometimes let our pride stand in the way of asking for assistance. Are you knocking on any doors right now?
It is perfectly human to long for stability and ease, yet "Sometimes the best we can hope for is to be graceful and brave in the face of all of the changes that will surely come." She continues, "It also helps to have a sense of humor about your own fate, to not think that you alone are blessed when good fortune comes your way, or cursed when it passes you by. It helps if you can realize that this part of life when you don't know what's coming next is often the part that people look back on with the greatest affection. In truth, the moment at which life really does become locked down, most of us are overcome by the desire to break it all apart again so that we can re-experience the variables of youth."
This small offering of a book (and commencement speech) is overflowing with wise words for young, inspiring students as well as those of us in the midst of great changes and are wondering to ourselves, "What now?"