ANN PATCHETT QUOTES FROM “WHAT NOW?”
Another perspective on what to do next.
“What now” is based on Ann’s lauded commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College.
“It was for me the start of a lesson that I never stop having to learn: to pay attention to the things I’ll probably never need to know, to listen carefully to the people who look as if they have nothing to teach me, to see school as something that goes on everywhere, all the time, not just in libraries but in parking lots, in airports, in trees.”
“The secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you want and being open to the thing that actually winds up coming your way. What now is not just a panic-stricken question tossed out into a dark unknown. What now can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow.
There’s a time in our lives when we all crave the answers. It seems terrifying not to know what’s coming next. But there is another time, a better time, when we see our lives as a series of choices, and What now represents our excitement and our future, the very vitality of life. It’s up to you to choose a life that will keep expanding. It takes discipline to remain curious; it takes work to be open to the world – but oh my friends, what noble and glorious work it is.
Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off the list and start to see it a two words worth living by. This is the day you leave this campus, but if you keep your heart and mind open and are willing to see all the possibilities that are available to you, it will only be the start of your education.
“If you’re trying to find out what’s coming next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen. Make up some plans and change them. Identify your heart’s truest desire and don’t change that for anything. Be proud of yourself for the work you’ve done. Be grateful to all the people who helped you do it. Write to them and let them know how you are. You are someone’s favorite unfolding story.”