John Wooden once said, "Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life."
The great UCLA coach, one of the last century's clearest thinkers, hits the nail on the head with that one. As is the case with many of his teachings, it's a simple ideology that seems to grow ever elusive as American culture progresses.
Yes, this is one of those sappy posts (briefly) lamenting what I perceive to be a shift in values--one away from a culture that admires substance and human interaction and toward one that feels increasingly materialistic (undoubtedly a form of substance, but not the form I choose to espouse) and isolationist.
Wooden also professed, in his later years, that the greatest human character trait--the one that might actually be our source for salvation as a species--is love. Again, very simple. If one possesses the capacity to love, one knows empathy. If one can love, then one knows compassion.
Love is a form of respect.
My life is busier now than it's ever been. I celebrated a birthday yesterday and, with a lot of miles on the odometer, time passes much faster. It just does. It's a cliche, and it's true. The days are shorter; there is less time to write, obviously less time to reflect in forums like this one.
But things are more rewarding. The days spent with my family, and in watching my daughter and wife grow together, are fuller.
There's more love.
The trick, then, is to learn how to spread that love exponentially. How can we tap into Wooden's ethos, one which proclaims that, "Passion is momentary; love is enduring"?
Sure, I get jazzed up for the short term things in life. I attack new stories and submissions with relish when I can; I love thinking about the time I might have at the beach this weekend, the jog I'll take later in the day or the time I might spend on the golf course.
But all of those passions are secondary to the type of love that Wooden is talking about. When it's all said and done, any writer's words will exist in the world. The work will have been worth it, hopefully, and it'll speak for itself.
Whatever that work is--be it architecture, teaching, law enforcement, raising children or making sandwiches--the work will speak for itself.
But the legacy you'll leave--the legacy I'll leave--will ultimately be the love we've shared.
If you've not read some of John Wooden's philosophy, here's an introduction. It's well worth your time to read his books...