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Gracious Living

“The end of learning is gracious living.”

I remember the happiness that buzzed through the campus when a Day of Gracious Living was announced. (This was in the Paleolithic Era, so we didn’t have smart phones but were pretty good with smoke signals.) An entire day to head out to the dunes, fall back asleep, spend time with friends –or catch up on that assignment you were going to have to pull an all-nighter to finish. Thank you, Sweetwaters, for providing the caffeine and sugar that allowed me to graduate.

I can’t recall exactly how I spent each Day of Gracious Living, and not because sometimes Bell’s was involved, but to this day I love the concept. A free day. You can reflect on your larger purpose; your future; life, the universe and everything –or you can choose to relax and enjoy the moment. The concept of gracious living told me that there is a point to hard work beyond acceptance into grad school or crafting the perfect resume. Your education and career are means to an end, and not an end in themselves. For years I was a little baffled by the phrase, “the end of learning is gracious living,” as I wondered why learning should end. Aren’t we lifelong learners? What happens after the end of learning?

In fact, it wasn’t until I wrote this that I realized the use of the word “end” is not in the sense of a finale or termination, but in the sense of purpose. The purpose of learning is to understand how to conduct your life in a gracious manner. The purpose of learning is to allow you to improve your entire existence, not just your resume or a GRE score. Learning opens the door into gracious living.

K gave me that.

-Corey Schultz ’97