Have you ever noticed how a theme will suddenly develop around you? Serendipitous events occur, snatches of speech overheard begin to form a pattern, and you think, I need to pay attention to this.
Recently, I was at dinner with some dear friends. She is an English major, as am I, and she told me that she’s counseling her daughters away from anything so frivolous as an English degree. She believes they should go into the medical field where the future employment demand is projected to be high thanks to the aging population. This saddened me, because I remember so well my own university days when, if I was foolish enough to announce my major, someone was bound to sneer, ‘You’ll never get a job with an English degree.’
Then, just yesterday I was at an outdoor market, a charming place with stalls and booths selling clothing made from recycled garments, hand made jewelry, organic fabrics and bags. I stopped at a booth full of whimsical cards and pictures and fridge magnets, compelled as I always am by words, for this artist combined famous and obscure sayings with her own drawings. As I stood there reading from this eclectic smorgasbord of pithy sayings, I overheard the artist say to another customer, ‘My dad said I’d never get a job if I took an English degree and I’m glad I got to prove him wrong.’ There it was again.
I wanted to throw back my head and howl against the mothers and fathers, the well-meaning friends and acquaintances who try to keep any child or young person from following their passion. Writers matter. Artists matter. They are the soul of the world. Of course we need commerce and science and medicine and all the other fine pursuits, but we need to encourage our artists: our dancers and singers, poets, playwrights, actors, film makers and, yes, writers.
Can you imagine a world where all our story tellers gave up and got law or engineering degrees?
I don’t want to.
Nancy Warren is the proud owner of a degree in English. She has been gainfully employed as a writer all of her working life.