Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First things first

My reading lately includes ethics texts (for a January course), daily thoughts on gratitude, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Facebook (with some Celia Rivenbark for balance).  In the midst of this (and other) reading, there have been recurring references to Anna Quindlen's writing and life.  The most recent example is a Quindlen quote from this morning:  
The ultimate act of bravery doesn't usually take place on a battlefield.  It takes place in your heart when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclination, and your soul by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world.
Being immersed as I am in reading and musing, the intersection of the topics, the quote, and the timing prompted me to wonder about some things...such as where we learn to listen to that clear voice of direction...why we accept the voices of others...and what happens when we stop being curious, thinking for ourselves, and digging deeper into a subject for the sheer joy of it all.

So, I took the time to read a bit more about Anna Quindlen, a woman who transitioned seamlessly from writing Newseek columns to writing novels in order to honor her own inclination to be home with her children and to write fiction.  And in the process of reading about Quindlen, I wondered about the source of the quote, as the punctuation in the version I saw seemed...well, wrong, especially for a writer of Quindlen's caliber.  So, honoring the voice of one of my own beloved muses, I searched for the primary text, found the source of the quote, and the punctuation I would have expected.

I don't always take the time to put first things first, to find the source and read it for myself, to grapple with my own understanding (or lack thereof).  When I do, though, for the sheer joy of satisfying intellectual curiosity, there are few things more satisfying.  If I can find a way to bring a small part of this into the classroom...

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