Monday, December 28, 2015

The Work by Wes Moore

I saw Wes Moore speak at a United Way event this year.  As part of attending the event, I received a copy of his book, The Work.  I now hope to go back and read his first book, The Other Wes Moore.  The book is about searching for one's life work.  Searching for work that can be tied to meaning.

It is interesting to think about the search for meaning as I just read a story this morning about ultramarathon runners (i.e., people who run races longer than marathons) and the search for meaning in The New Yorker.  (You can read it here if you wish.) 

In any case, I wanted to comment briefly on four things I read in the book.  First, is a quote that Wes Moore attributes to former Johns Hopkins President Bill Brody, "...every day you say longer than you have to, you become extraordinarily ordinary."  This was with reference doing something that a person is not passionate about. I am lucky to be passionate about my present job.  I was passionate about my previous job.  But one of the reasons I made the change from being "just" a faculty member to faculty and administrator is that I was no longer so passionate about being just faculty.  And when I become non-passionate about running, some day (if that ever happens), I'll give it up and find something else to turn my attention to.  And if I ever find that sharing my thoughts through writing is not something I'm passionate about any longer (although I find that unlikely as I did creative writing for fun as early as when I was nine), I'll find another way to express myself.  And if I find that one way of reaching out and helping others is no longer something about which I'm passionate, I'll find something else.  But, again, I expect to always find helping others to be something about which I will be passionate.

Second quote of interest is really not a quote so much as a phrase, memento mori.  The translation is "remember you will die."  A reminder not of death, but of a reason to live.  A reason to make the most of every day.  To think back to Dead Poets Society, carpe diem.  Seize the day. Do something with life.  Do something with every day.  Every minute it I can.

Which brings me to the third quote, from the same chapter as memento mori.  I would love to quote the entire last paragraph, but I'll just quote the last sentence, "It's understanding that at some point everybody will die, but not everybody lives."  Much the same message as the second quote.  But just an even stronger message.  Living is about more than just getting up, working, relaxing, sleeping, and starting the day over again. It's about challenges and community and change.

Finally, for each of the other leaders Wes Moore focused on in his book, he provides a series of questions that they inspire.  For Daniel Lubetzky, Wes Moore challenges the reader to ask himself or herself, "If money wasn't a factor, what might you be inspired to create?"  And that is where something like this blog and the whole idea of 56 Frickin' Miles comes from.  I have an idea for what running means to me and might mean to others.  And by sharing that, I want to tie it in to other way of helping others.  I've been doing that since my first marathon in which I raised money for the American Cancer Society.  But this is about more opportunities for people I could see in what I now think of as my hometown (and what is certainly my boys' hometown.)  So, I'll state here that I hope to write something meaningful about the seven C's of running: challenge, community, conversation, connection, compassion, contemplation, and change.  Maybe it'll be a book. Maybe it'll sell a few copies.  But if nothing else, I would love for it to bring others to my love of running and love of giving and making the world just a little bit better for those who surround me. 

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