It comes at the 49 minute mark of the video, where professional author and speaker Gregg Levoy remarks: “My father’s advice when I headed off to college was don’t take courses, take professors. Isn’t that interesting? Take professors.”
I literally tripped over Levoy’s book, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion, when Miriam was displacing a pile from the the den’s bed to make room for Elliot’s overnight stay. His trip to Fair Lawn was a quick turnaround to attend his high school’s 20th reunion, and no doubt he had his share of memories of teachers based on life’s lessons imparted more so that the formal topic of the class they taught. All the more so in the United States Military Academy …
Levoy is a gifted writer, and Vital Signs is one of those books that prompts a torrent of thoughts and self-reflections. I rarely re-read books, but on the serendipitous occasion of bumping into an old friend (which is what keepsake books are, after all) bedrock principles are sometimes conjured up. Just within the first chapter of Vital Signs there were two:
- Diversifying one’s spiritual portfolio – no matter how secularistic or humanistic you are, would you be willing to bet against the existence of God? Taking a lesson from the world of finance, as my model of spirituality evolves and expands, I’ve always maintained some investment in traditional notions of God. Levoy plumbs the depths of what it means to hedge bets for or against the existence of an afterlife. If there are pearly gates of heaven, would it have been worth unloading all assets of asceticism in exchange for tangible pleasures? My mantra: maintain a diversified spiritual portfolio.
- Repairing one’s spiritual infrastructure – the metaphor of bridges decaying and railings rusting can be powerful. Houses of the Holy have their purpose, and religious institutions are an essential part of the communal fabric. But on an individual basis we need to periodically repair our spiritual infrastructure. Being invested in organized religion and houses of worship are all well and good, but healing the spirit is not rooted in time or place. My mantra: take one month mini-sabbaticals to re-pave one’s spirit every six months.