So add Angela Lee Duckworth to the list that includes Amy Chua, Michelle Rhee, and Bich Minh Nguyen: The list of Asian women who make me wonder if I make the most of my time. As I listened to Duckworth, a psychologist, on the podcast, Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, Duckworth mentioned that each member of her family selects “one hard thing” that requires deliberate focus and sticks it out to the end of a season–no quitting in the middle.
Was it coding? Is yoga too easy? Reading? Cooking vegan? Have I given up on writing? Sorting through your life can be humbling.
Last week, Zadie Smith, came to our small town and asked, “Why Write?” She eloquently repurposed George Orwell’s “Why I Write?” to question popular understanding of creativity and offer refusal as another part of the response. A friend and I both found these words to characterize Smith which hinted at a tired phrase because it felt over the top–but wasn’t, “fierce intellect.”
While reading up on Smith, I noticed she is one degree of separation from another writer I admire, Louise Erdich, whom Smith recently presented with an award.
I’m reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and am struck by the craft. I was afraid to read this book, because of . . . well, Viet Nam. But much like an initial bias against vegan-ism or classic movies like The Third Man, unfamiliarity with concepts in the popular zeitgeist, can go either way–invite you into the club or cast you as an outsider. My outsider status confirmed when I finally saw Les Miserables on Broadway and Citizen Kane on Netflix. Too distant. Too Late? However, an insider status prevailed elsewhere: Pride and Prejudice and vegan cooking–among others.
So in an attempt to break the silence, I’m returning hopefully to a Slice of Life. It as my One Hard Thing–on Tuesdays.