Heather's Reviews > What Now?

What Now? by Ann Patchett
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's review
Feb 03, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

This is a short read with many great nuggets:
Two excerpts:
Sometimes the best we can hope for is to be graceful and brave in the face of all the changes that will surely come. It also helps to have a sense of humor about your own fate, to not think that you alone are blessed when good fortune comes your way, or cursed when it passes you by. It helps if you can realize that this part of life when you don’t know what’s coming next is often the part that people look back on with the greatest affection. In truth, the moment at which life really does become locked down, most of us are overcome by the desire to break it all apart again so that we can reexperience the variables of youth.
Re: Catholic school training: The idea was that we should not accidentally wind up with too grand an opinion of ourselves, and frankly I regard this as sound counsel. In a world that is flooded with children’s leadership camps and grown-up leadership seminary and bestselling books on leadership, I count myself as fortunate to have been taught a thing or two about following. Like leading, it is a skill, and unlike leading, it’s one that you’ll actually get to use on a daily basis. It is senseless to thing that at every moment of our lives we should all be the team captain, the class president, the general, the CEO, and yet so often this is what we’re being prepared for. No matter how many great ideas you might have about salad preparation of the reorganization or time cards, waitressing is not a leadership position. You’re busy and so you ask somebody else to bring he water to table four. Someone else is busy and so you clear the dirty plates from table twelve. You learn to be helpful and you learn to ask for help. It turns out that most positions in life, even the big ones, aren't really so much about leadership. Being successful, and certainly being happy, comes from honing your skills in working with other people. For the most part we travel in groups – you’re ahead of somebody for a while, then somebody’s ahead of you, a lot of people are beside you all the way. It’s what the nuns had always taught us: sing together, eat together, pray together.

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