Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reading, Dreams and Life's Passions

"We read in bed because reading is somewhere between life and dreaming."
~Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author


Today I was privileged to listen to Anna Quindlen deliver the keynote address to an audience of a couple thousand literacy professionals at the annual National Conference on Family Literacy, hosted by the National Center for Family Literacy in Louisville, Kentucky. NCFL happens to be the organization for which I work. I cannot tell you how thrilling it was to sit in the audience and listen to a woman whom I've admired for years, have read her column and books, and to hear first hand how passionate she is about the very things I also am very passionate about.

Reading. Books. Literacy. Families. In no particular order.

Listening to her renewed something in me...something that in between all my travel of late, my deadlines, family issues, daily stressors, and the writing and all it entails, I'd let slide.

Passion. About the cause. About the books. About the stories. About the writing.

Juggling too much, perhaps, but that is the way life is sometimes. Holding onto the dream, the vision, the reason we do what we do -- that's the passion that can't be let go of. Yeah, maybe I'd dismissed it of late. Maybe, I'd forgotten a little about that and let myself get caught up in the daily dregs of life. Not unusual, probably.

Today, however, was a nice wake-up call. Along with Ms. Quindlen, I also soaked up wisdom from an adult student speaker who shared her life story and how through a family literacy program, she picked herself and her family up and is now moving toward higher ground. She's accomplished goals, gotten an education, a job, and supports her children in their educational pursuits. I listened to a wonderful teacher, Katy Kibbey, who was just named the Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year, talk about how honored she was to receive the award, but that she was really just another "Horton" trying to help a lot of special "Whos."

Powerful words from all three women. The student. The teacher. The professional writer and speaker. All of which remind me that what I do every day, whether it is at my "day job" working to support literacy development in families, or my "night job" where I lay down words on pages in the hopes that someone, someday, will read them, understand them, and like them.

It sort of made me think -- what I do is really a full circle kind of thing. I help people learn how to read. I write so that they have something to read.

How can one not be passionate about that?

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