My Useless English Major

As Dave Chapelle once joked, “Haters gonna to hate, lovers gonna love–” …I’ll stop right there.

Why did you major in English? Everybody in the world is going to speak English someday! What a useless major! Blah blah, and so on it goes like this.

It’s not just random people who give me the inquisitive raised eyebrow either, family does it too! My techy cousins make fun of me. I hold a book in my hands and they say, “Have you heard of a kindle?” Really? Has society lost their love for books? I mean, I hate tree cutting like the next person – but now books have recycled paper and that’s cool!

I refuse to let the pages go. The smell of paper, feel of the ink, and the weight of each page as I turn them over from the right to the left (unless you’re in a country that reads from left to right) — until there’s no more and it feels like a triumph at the end. The conquering English major readers who refuse to let go of their dusty overstuffed libraries, their prize winners, their game upon the shelf! We cannot let them go. And why? Because nerdy adventurers like us adore traveling through fiction, scifi, novels, biographies, therapy and medical books. We want to know more and more and more. It makes our heart skip a beat — it reminds us that we are alive — that we are humans and that we are capable of feeling, inventing, connecting, and killing each other.

My useless English major has given me the gift of capturing the subtextual messages between, within, above and over the lines. My ESL background gives me a strange and funny insight on the English language too – I can reverse meanings the way language reverses syntax.

So here’s what I say to you who ask about my useless English major. Every company, organization, and nonprofit in the world today needs to employ a person who knows how to communicate properly, spell words, and for heaven’s sake – write with a hint of humor.

I do not live in a fantasy world (entirely), I know where we are heading, I know technology is taking over a lot of these little pleasures in life (for some of us who used to live before the public internet remember). Like going over to your friends house and talking about whatever, having picnics, or driving to the beach with the family! Those of us who lived before Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I love me my Facebook, but — it has kept me from actual physical contact to some people. Did we use to make more of an effort? I don’t know anymore.

But my major and my books is where I draw the line. I am a proud English major; I value language, communication, and reading. I believe that writing down ideas in a journal is a necessary process human beings need to understand complex daily interactions. I believe reading your thoughts months later can help you reflect on what has changed in your life. I believe stories have the power to heal. I believe writing have the power to regain power over your life. I believe giving someone the gift of ANY language and the ability to write it, gives them an independent voice is of great value.

I love books, I love writing, and I love communicating.

Click here to check out this Huffington post l article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz entitled The Value of Reading Novels.



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