Archive for July, 2010

Excuses, excuses.

I have no real excuses regarding my long absence from this blog.

Reasons, I got. Tons of reasons. Tons of obligations that moved posting further into the background of my days. I’m going to tell you all about it real soon. I’d tell you now, but if I tried, I’d end up late for a swim date we have this afternoon.

But I did want to show you all this picture:

because it factors quite a bit into the stories I’ll be telling in the days to come. I’m not trying to make excuses or anything. I’m just saying that we need to talk about this picture. 🙂

We’re off to swim now.

Please stand by.

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“Have had no thoughts today…”

Excerpts from a letter written by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter:

…I am glad you are happy—but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed page, they never really happen to you in real life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you and always pleasantly…

 Fitzgerald ends his letter to his daughter with this list of things not to worry about and things to think about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t wory about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

[From William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues for Young People, pp. 86-87]

I read this to the girls today during lunch, having come across Bennett’s book purely by chance at the library last week. It was one of those books I’d heard mentioned frequently in homeschooling circles, but never felt compelled to rush out and purchase. So, when I saw it on the shelves, I grabbed it and brought it home to peruse, and now we read a little from it every lunch hour. And now that I’ve read this letter, I do believe I’ll buy a copy for the house.

I can’t help but remember how my own father never gave me any advice, except with regards to what I should be reading. I’d send him a letter, and he’d write back: “Go out immediately and get yourself a copy of Madame Bovary.” Or he’d send a letter with a postage stamp with Hemmingway on it. “Look at the man on the stamp,” he’d write back. “Read him.” My father lived a life of missed opportunities, estrangement from family, homelessness and addiction. He was the Hemmingway Defense defined, you could say, and a failure as a parent in every possible way.

Except one, I suppose.

What a classical education for modern girls should look like.


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