On February 15, 2016 the world was awakened to deeply saddening news.? Less than three weeks later, without story build up, suspenseful sub-plots, character development or a happy ending sailing off the Carolina coast, Pat Conroy has passed away.? In a life plot twist that contradicts all the principle elements of writing, the South and the world has lost a rare literary gift.
This morning, I sat on the floor with my autographed copy of My Losing Season reading random pages and soaking in his wisdom and oratory craftsmanship.? As a writer, I am often walking the sands of Folly Beach at sunrise taking refuse in the solitude and heavenly release of the sun as it rises from the depths of the ocean to welcome in a new day.? During this time, I often find brief but potent moments of inspiration that drive my passion for the word.? It is because of men like Pat Conroy that I can let me emotions be a complimentary part of my writing process without compromise, without fear.
Pat Conroy was a rare author, not just as a communicator of the Southern lifestyle, but in the way he approached each and every project.
As a son of a well decorated military father and true Southern mamma, graduate of the Citadel and gifted observer of life, Pat Conroy brought a rare set of skills to the pen.? As a man of honesty, integrity and grit, he tackled subjects of the heart when others wouldn’t.? As a perfectionist, he was tortured internally with every work he published.? He once said that his wife was always the happier writer and that he never smiled once at a single word he ever wrote.
In his life and writing, Pat Conroy communicated what so many of us are afraid to say or do.? Below are some of his most profound thoughts about: importance of the written word, Charleston, adventure, family, legacy, emotions, our children, religion and the inspiration of family.
He spoke for all of us.? Most importantly he spoke of the South with pride and honor painting a picture of beauty in the midst of struggles and pains.? Through his words, generations have ignited a spark to discover a land with the heron fly over the marsh, the hot humid nights kindle fiery passion and the soft gentle breeze from the crashing waves provide serenity.
We are saddened that we will not bear witness to new words, but content that you will forever be in our hearts.? Goodbye Pat Conroy.? When you have a moment, sent us a letter and let us know how Charleston looks from up above.
Lessons of Life Expressed by the Words of Pat Conroy
Importance of the Written Word
“Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.”? – Pat Conroy
Charleston, South Carolina
“Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.” – Pat Conroy
Faith and Adventure
“I wanted to become the seeker, the aroused and passionate explorer, and it was better to go at it knowing nothing at all, always choosing the unmarked bottle, always choosing your own unproven method, armed with nothing but faith and a belief in astonishment.”– Pat Conroy
“When mom and dad went to war the only prisoners they took were the children” – Pat Conroy
“Few things linger longer or become more indwelling than that feeling of both completion and emptiness when a great book ends. That the book accompanies the reader forever from that day forward is part of literature’s profligate generosity.”– Pat Conroy
Orator of Emotions
“Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into lucid form, then forcing them into the tight-fitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear. If the writing is good, then the result seems effortless and inevitable. But when you want to say something life-changing or ineffable in a single sentence, you face both the limitations of the sentence itself and the extent of your own talent.”– Pat Conroy
Educating our Youth
“Teach them the quiet words of kindness, to live beyond themselves. Urge them toward excellence, drive them toward gentleness, pull them deep into yourself, pull them upward toward manhood, but softly like an angel arranging clouds. Let your spirit move through them softly.” – Pat Conroy
Religion and Faith
“I prayed hard and only gradually became aware that this fierce praying was a way of finding prologue and entrance into my own writing. This came as both astonishment and relief. When I thought God had abandoned me, I discovered that He had simply given me a different voice to praise the inexhaustible beauty of the made world.” – Pat Conroy
Inspiration of Family
“My mother’s voice and my father’s fists are two bookends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art.” – Pat Conroy