Originally Published February 25, 1993
By Sallye Pershall
I have a book on my shelf at home that I tell myself to read and never do. I get enough satisfaction just looking at the title and am always afraid that what is inside might disappoint me. The book is You Must Revise Your Life by the poet William Shafford. It’s a book on writing. I bought You Must Revise Your Life my freshman year, knowing I’d never read it but feeling very literary about myself for having made the purchase.
Since having the book, “Your Must Revise Your Life” is a phrase I constantly refer to. I apply it when I know I need to change something in my life or when I see that someone else is changing theirs. I think it a good phrase for college students to think of in a scholastic environment where we are introduced to insights and knowledge that prompt us to better ourselves. It seems appropriate that in college we realize that life is an endeavor of constant revision.
I am often bothered by the fact that the revisions in my life are never the permanent kind of changes I can make in writing. Like the apostle Paul, I have a strong desire to become more like Christ, but find myself returning to my old ways again and again. I wish for nice books like You Must Revise Your Life that would give affective solutions on life revision.
But before change can take place, a realization of its need must first occur. And how many realize the importance of revision? Its easy to go along following the status quo and accept things like the Ten Commandments and the 27 doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church without knowing why. Life is easier when its not challenged. I know because I see myself shying away from big questions and big changes as much as I can. Change is a scary event and knowing that challenging yourself may result in change is as fun as taking a midterm.
In the past few years, I have come to admire the friends I have that are revising their lives and beliefs rather than complacently agreeing to what would make their lives simple, mindless endeavors. I respect more my friend who questions the true nature of God and His very existence, rather than the person who never stops to challenge: Challenge God and creation and evolution and why we should treat each other right.
There are no easy answers to the big questions, but reminding ourselves of the need to strive for improvement and remembering that as humans we are gifted with an unlimited capacity for further revision should fill us with a need to wonder at the answers. And although looking for the right solution to the most essential questions will not solve the task of life revision, it will let us know that the answers we do find, when we find them, are the right ones. And that will be the biggest revision.