My favorite parts include the following maxim: "If everyone is special, no one is" and this bit of priceless advice, which I think has guided my own life and I hope will guide the lives of my children:
Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the species glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages, and read. Read all the time, read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.There is much more good in this speech and in Tugend's article. In particular, I connected with her use of George Eliot's Middlemarch, upon which I wrote my Honor's Thesis in college. She quotes the last lines of that great book:
For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.And upon reading those words again, I was reminded of a passage from Les Miserables. After several pages of listing the day-to-day happenings of 1817, most of which I did not understand, Hugo writes:
Such was the confused mass of the now-forgotten events that floated like flotsam on the surface of the year 1817. History ignores almost all these minutiae: it cannot do otherwise; it is under the dominion of infinity. Nonetheless, these details, which are incorrectly termed little - there being neither little facts in humanity nor little leaves in vegetation - are useful. It is the features of the years that makes up the face of the century. (119)Like my friend, I want an ordinary life. I want my children to do what they love and believe in regardless of who sees them. I want to live faithfully a hidden life.