Monday, December 19, 2016

Look at the View

I have been re-visiting some old favourites to add to our resource list for the Good Enough book, and came across this small, tiny gem A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen.

I’ve always been a fan of Anna Quindlen after hearing her speak at a conference in Chicago.  At that time, she’d just finished writing Living Out Loud and she shared the story of how one of her readers had contacted her to say how disappointed she was that Anna had chosen to send her children to child care. 

As Anna joked how on earth could she have written her book with her kids underfoot?  I loved how she was real and practical.  This was back in 1988, a time when being authentic had yet to be valued.

As I opened the book I read the inscription from a girlfriend who’d bought it for me for my birthday back in 2002.  So much has happened since then - starting Company of Women, a double mastectomy and a move to the farm.  What hasn’t changed is Anne and I are still good friends and the message in this book still rings true.

Anna Quindlen observes that we all have so much, yet we take it for granted.  It is not, as she shares, until something drastic happens in our lives – in her case the death of her mother at age 40 – that we realize how fragile it all is.

Quindlen talks about what she is proud of in terms of her parenting, marriage and friendships and ends each description with the same line “I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.”   It’s that simple

Life is made up of moments she shares, it is not a dress rehearsal, so we need to enjoy each day as it comes, pay attention to the small things like the way the sun shines on the snow, the freckles on your child’s face.  Enjoy the wonder of it all.

One of her biggest lessons she learned was from a homeless man she met on the beach.  It was freezing outside, with the wind whirling around as she talked to him. As they looked out at the sea, she asked him why he didn’t go to a shelter.  His reply?   “Look at the view.”

When was the last time you looked at the view?  When did you last notice the small wonders around you?  It seems like a timely message as we gather together to celebrate the holidays. 

Look at the view.

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