Reading this book while watching my daughter play football this evening.

It's not the kind of thing I'd usually go for, but an article by the same author was given as a reading for the course I've been on this week.

On p.6 I'm already struck by this:

"We don't expect long answers when we ask children what they want to be when they want to be when they grow up, any more than we expect a list of names in response to questions about marriage. In fact, assumptions about careers are not unlike those about marriage; the real success stories are supposed to be permanent and monogamous."


"All too often... We hold on to the continuity we have, however profoundly it is flawed. If change were less frightening, if the risks did not seem as great, far more could be lived. One of the striking facts of most lives is the recurrence of threads of continuity... even across deep rifts of change, but when you watch people damaged by their dependence on continuity, you wonder about the nature of commitment, about the need for a new and more fluid way to imagine the future."


"We are preoccupied today with midlife crises because these moments of reassessment and redirection occur more with half a lifetime of productivity still ahead, when opportunity still beckons beyond perplexity. We must expect that, over time, such moments will occur repeatedly, that we will live many lives."


"Change proposes constancy: What is the ongoing entity of which we can say that it has assumed a new form? A composite life poses the recurring riddle of what the parts have in common. Why is a raven like a writing desk? How is a lady like a soldier? Why is caring for an infant like designing a computer program? How is the study of ancient poetry like the design of universities"


"Composing a life involves a continual reimagining of the future and reinterpretation of the past to give meaning to the present, remembering bes those events that prefigured what followed, forgetting those that have proved to have no meaning within the narrative."


"The process of improvisation that goes into composing a life is compounded in the process of remembering a life, like a patchwork quilt in a watercolor painting, rumpled and evocative. Yet it is this second process, composing a life through memory as well as through day-to-day choices, that seems to me most essential to creative living. The past empowers the present, and the groping footsteps leading to this present mark the pathways to the future."


"Human beings tend to regard the conventions of their own societies as natural, often as sacred. One of the great steps forward in history was learning to regard that who spoke odd-sounding languages and had different smells and habits as fully human, as similar to oneself. The next step from this realization, the step which we have still not fully made, is the willingness to question and purposefully alter one's own conditions and habits, to learn by observing others."



"The certification of privilege has always been as important a function of education as bringing about learning, but there is a possibility that the real winners in a rapidly changing world will be those who are open to alternatives and able to respect and value those who are different. These winners will not require that others become losers."

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