I was getting into my car after court the other day and I was asking myself, “What is really important in my life?”
My first answer was my family and love and faith and relative good health and friends. Those are the intangible things.
I looked at fancy cars and reflected on the lawyers in their fancy suits that I had just left and it was crystal clear in my heart and mind that, while I love my job and I love my life, those were not the most important things in my life.
The things that really matter are words and pictures.
That’s all that has ever really mattered.
I grew up pretty poor but with great optimism and faith in education to make a better life for myself.
Books, reading and education were stressed in our home. The occasion of getting a library card was a reason for celebration!
As a young girl, going to the library was my delight. I would check out armfuls of picture books, sometimes returning every other day for more during the summer months. They were devoured and savored and opened my mind to the wonderful world around me.
My memories are mostly in pictures. Settings from childhood, pictures from young adulthood are how those years remain in my brain.
The physical pictures stashed in my closet cause memories to flood back. I have digital drives filled with memories.
Raising children was a picture-taking frenzy. The decades of child-rearing are meticulously chronicled and will be cherished forever.
In the beginning was the Word, the Bible says.
For me, the beginning of my intellectual and spiritual life was the discovery of words.
I devoured them.
Reading my library books, studying every book available at my house.
My seven siblings has these wonderful things called text books from high school and college. When they weren’t studying, I would pour over them and marvel at the wisdom they contained.
At an early age, I discovered I could write!
My inspiration came from my father. An Irish immigrant who worked as a janitor, he wrote stories of his native Ireland and life in America. They were charming and made me see the life of the mind put down on paper to share with others.
As a very young girl, I tried my hand at writing stories. I had the audacity to send them to The New Yorker and The Atlantic. One kind editor sent me a letter suggesting that I live a little more life before I tried to write about it.
I took that advice. And, oh, the life I have lived.
That life led to creating words. Articles, books, ebooks, speeches, columns. The words have poured out of me.
When I am old(er) and gray (when I decide stop dyeing my hair. Ha!) I will reflect not on the houses I lived in or the cars I drove. It has always been the words and pictures, and will always be so.