I can’t be the only one. I can’t be the only one who has these moments when I consider how I spend my days, reflecting on the poetry, art, literature, and music that I immerse myself in and ask, what is the point of all this anyway?
Don’t get me wrong! I love what I do. LOVE it!! I get to spend my days reading and sharing my love of what I read with others. But there are moments that come at unexpected times. Moments when I think, sure I love this stuff. But is my love of it enough to give it value? Is my love of it enough to justify crafting an entire education and a life around that love? I mean, I’m not curing cancer here.
Our entire culture is built around the assumption that the work we do must be useful. Our educational goals push for technological and scientific advancements—practical, quantifiable, useful outcomes. And I confess that there are days when I hear those cultural voices in my head and wonder if reading poetry is useful.
One day when I was having these thoughts, I spoke to a friend of mine. A friend who ironically does cure cancer for a living. And he said, “The work you do is so important. So valuable. Sure, I save lives. But you give people a reason to live. You give them a life worth living.”
I bet you can guess how much this encouragement meant to me. And I hope it’s an encouragement to you too. Remember it when those loud, screaming voices of the culture cause you to doubt your commitment to a life dedicated to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
This is what we are doing. We are giving ourselves and our children and our students and the whole world, a life worth living. Nothing less than this.
And especially in these dark days of Modernity, when despair and angst and meaninglessness reign, what could be possibly be more useful than that.