Last week was the 40th anniversary of MLK Jr’s assassination. Until I heard it on the radio, I hadn’t realized he was thirty-nine years old when he was killed. I think of his presence, his power, his is-ness—he was thirty-four years old when he gave the I Have a Dream speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Thirty-four!
It seems some people have a lot to accomplish in their time on this earth and they accomplish a lot young perhaps because they’re not going to be here long. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and get it done early because otherwise it won’t get done at all. I’m not saying this is conscious, but it happens.
I’m reading Flannery O’Connor’s letters, and she is another such young-achiever. It seems she knew she was a writer from the beginning and never wavered. In 1946, at the age of twenty-one, she was accepted into the Iowa Writers Workshop and never looked back, continuously writing short stories and two novels until her death in 1964, at the age of thirty-nine.