A recent article in the NY Times pointed out how many great writers have been not such great human beings. Personally, I’m willing to overlook a lot in exchange for a novel that cleaves that inner frozen sea. In the case of the writer George Saunders, this isn’t necessary. Not only is he one of the most original, witty and incisive writers working today, he’s a big-hearted human being, too.
If any proof beyond my opinion is required, just read the graduation speech he gave this spring at Syracuse University. Here he is on how to view success:
“Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.
On what he regrets most in his life:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
On his hope for us all:
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
For the full speech, click here http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?_r=2&