Finding David Series
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But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.
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But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.
So a few years ago I set out to discover how those deeply good people got that way. But I at least wanted to know what the road looked like. I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.
If we wanted to be gimmicky, we could say these accomplishments amounted to a moral bucket list, the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life. Here, quickly, are some of them:. The meritocracy wants you to promote yourself. Social media wants you to broadcast a highlight reel of your life. Your parents and teachers were always telling you how wonderful you were.
"yeah thats not what I was looking for at all."
They have identified their core sin, whether it is selfishness, the desperate need for approval, cowardice, hardheartedness or whatever. They have traced how that core sin leads to the behavior that makes them feel ashamed. They have achieved a profound humility, which has best been defined as an intense self-awareness from a position of other-centeredness. But character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness. Dwight Eisenhower, for example, realized early on that his core sin was his temper.
He developed a moderate, cheerful exterior because he knew he needed to project optimism and confidence to lead.
He did silly things to tame his anger. He took the names of the people he hated, wrote them down on slips of paper and tore them up and threw them in the garbage. Over a lifetime of self-confrontation, he developed a mature temperament.
He made himself strong in his weakest places. This book suggests that life is an autonomous journey. We master certain skills and experience adventures and certain challenges on our way to individual success. This individualist worldview suggests that character is this little iron figure of willpower inside. But people on the road to character understand that no person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own.
Individual will, reason and compassion are not strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride and self-deception. We all need redemptive assistance from outside. People on this road see life as a process of commitment making. Character is defined by how deeply rooted you are. The me that hates my own child, that put my perfectly healthy dog to sleep? The me who thinks, deep down, that maybe The Wire was overrated? For nearly four decades, David Sedaris has faithfully kept a diary in which he records his thoughts and observations on the odd and funny events he witnesses.
Anyone who has attended a live Sedaris event knows that his diary readings are often among the most joyful parts of the evening. But never before have they been available in print. Now, in Theft by Findin g, Sedaris brings us his favorite entries. From the family home in Ralegh, North Carolina, we follow Sedaris as he sets out to make his way in the world.
As an art student and then teacher in Chicago he works at a succession of very odd jobs, meeting even odder people, before moving to New York to pursue a career as a writer - where instead he very quickly lands a job in Macy's department store as an elf in Santaland Tender, hilarious, illuminating, and endlessly captivating, Theft by Finding offers a rare look into the mind of one of our generation's greatest comic geniuses. Not since the peanut butter and jelly sandwich have we inherited something so sweet and comforting yet so wickedly naughty' - The Times.
His life is extraordinary in so many ways - the drug addiction, the eccentric family, the crazy jobs, the fame, the globetrotting - but one of the more unlikely achievements here is in making it all seem quite ordinary. Sedaris shares something of [Alan] Bennett's detached curiosity, and they both have a thirst for amusement' - Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday. An essayist and raconteur, his work is most often identified by his unique brand of autobiographical writing and performed readings.
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