Andrea/Cara here, musing today not on writing (though that comes into play) but on Life. On our Wench e-mail loop, we often share with each other things that tickle our fancy or strike a deeper chord as meaningful wisdom. And just the other day, Anne gave us a link to a speech called 9 Life Lessons given by Tim Minchin (a comedian /musician who is described as “sublimely talented, witty, smart and unabashedly offensive" ) on receiving an honorary degree from a Down Under university.
Some of you might have seen the link on her Facebook page, but I thought I’d share it here too. I hope you’ll take the time to have a look.
I don’t often feel compelled to share videos from the internet (there’s a lot of wonderful stuff, but a lot of noise out there too, and I try to be careful about both listening and imposing those “time sucks” on my friends.) But I found this one profoundly moving—wise, funny, and filled with advice that resonated with me. Perhaps it’s partly because of a confluence of events that had me very much thinking about a number of the points on which he touched:
Life is short. Fill it with positive things. I recently lost a good friend in Miranda Neville, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how her wisdom, her sense of humor, her intelligence and laughter always made being with her a special time. Friends are precious. (At left is Miranda and me exploring the main library at Yale) Another powerful reminder of precious friends happened just this past weekend. I had one of my college roommates visiting. We met as callow 18 yr olds, thrown together by random assignment in freshmen housing. Right away, I loved her sense of humor and her enthusiasm for everything she threw herself into. I also admired how she was always the first to offer a hug whenever any of us was feeling down or discouraged. (At right is us at graduation) We’re still best friends today, and the qualities that drew me to her in the first place have only become richer and more developed by Life’s ups and owns. Minchin’s speech reminded me of how having people like this in your life makes you a better person.
Be curious and never stop being willing to learn. Be generous and share your knowledge with others. I found that a wonderful reminder that Life is never standing still. It’s moving (and will be gone sooner than you think) so keep enriching your own experience, and be someone who strives to enrich the experiences of others.
Be kind. Celebrate the things you love, not just gripe about the things that are wrong or irritate you. A wonderful message for these times, don’t you think? To me it was yet another reminder to stop and smell the roses. Appreciate the little things around you each day.
Realize how lucky you are to be alive—you’ve been given an extraordinary gift so use it to the fullest. Be passionate about what you do. Take joy in the journey even though it will be hard at times. Make other people happy and you’ll share in it.
As an author I’m constantly creating characters and conflicts in a story to make them grow into the people I want them to be. And in listening to Minchin’s speech, I realized that all of the things he talks about are the sorts of things I think about unconsciously. What makes a hero and heroine? Kindness; compassion; curiosity; a sense of humor; a joy in simple pleasures; a willingness to admit one’s own weaknesses and try to overcome them; humility—you’re never the smartest person in the room; resilience . . . these are some of things I think are important. And I’m grateful to Minchin for making me stop and think them things through his very wise and funny speech. Thank you, Tim. And thank you, Anne.
What about you? If you watched the speech, what resonated with you? What qualities do you value in your friends? What qualities in yourself have helped you weather tough times?