Yesterday, I didn't touch the news of Paul Newman's death here, at least partly because it seemed too strange to mourn a celebrity stranger, even at a distance. But he was a student in this beloved place where I was a student and where I am now a teacher; he has always been one of the people of whom I've said proudly, "You know where he went to school, right?" And in watching an interview with him in one of my institution's tributes to him this evening, I've found him giving voice to something I believe deeply. As a kind of memorial to him, I will tell you what he's just put into my arsenal:
In my experience, the people who acknowledge luck are more generous and more charitable. The people who attribute their success to rugged individualism usually are penurious and cheap.He doesn't mean stop working. He means never stop working--and never stop acknowledging that you're lucky to have landed where the work is, and to have been gifted what you need to do it. We could use more of that kind of humility, and more such reminders of the fact that we can choose to keep on becoming our best selves.
If you want to see him as a very young man, peruse the tributes. Some of them are sweeter than sweet (including this excellent photo of a version of him that makes my heart throb--the booted, bearded pedagogue, conducting the archetypal outdoor seminar meeting right here in my academic home? yes, please).