Anna Quindlen needs no introduction, certainly none from me. However, for those readers whose attentions are confined to the sports pages, her op-ed column in the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is the author of 12 books, one of which was made into a movie featuring Meryl Streep and Rene Zellweger. She currently writes a column in Newsweek.
I was given her book, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by a friend of mine, a 60-year-old gentleman, who has survived cancer and (I think) works for the CIA as an undercover agent. I read it on a commuter flight from Washington to Charlotte.
I've been told that the book was originally written as a commencement speech. I recommend it to everyone. I don't particularly have any issues with Ms. Quindlen's message, but for some reason, I was moved to write a response - a reaction to her themes.
The words on the following pages entitled A Happy Guide to a Short Life were not intended to do anything other than to continue the spiritual and emotional debate in my mind around several concepts, including happiness, service, gratitude, and love.
The more I thought about my reaction to Ms. Quindlen's book, the more I started talking to my friends - Dan, Terry, Mom, Mike, Victor, Deb, Jasper, Bonnie, Miles, Ms. Rimmer, and a few others. From those loving conversations and communications, this little book was produced. Thanks to all who participated and cared.
Finally, and importantly, I used Ms. Quindlen's book as a paragraph-by-paragraph framework to draft the original text of this book. Then I salted in ideas and concepts to illuminate my points and poke fun. There is no attempt to disguise my source of motivation.
Respectfully, I thank you, Ms. Anna Quindlen.
Happy Guide would not have been possible without the talents, expertise, and countless hours dedicated by the following professionals