Tell Me a Story: Toni Lambert

By Toni Lambert (AGI’19)
[Reprinted from Colloquy, Vol. 2, with permission from the author and editors.]

School was not easy for me; I found school fun, but never easy. I loved learning new
things, but from as early as I can remember, I never liked reading. I was told the speed
with which I read dictated how good of a reader I was, rather than the questions
and ideas I developed. This idea convinced me that I hated to read; however, I never
doubted my love of learning.

When the time came, I searched for a college or university that would allow me to
learn the most and grow into my adult self. What qualities in a school was I looking
for? My main priorities for a school were that it would be large (more students to learn
from) and be in a different part of the country, so I could find new environments and
political ideas to engage with. I followed neither of those things, but with much luck
ended up at a small liberal arts college not far from where I grew up.

It took less than a week for me to discover that I do in fact love to read. How so? I
encountered great books for the first time. I was reading Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche,
Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Mark Twain, and others. It was thrilling. I wanted to read,
think, and discuss this way for the rest of my life. I took my education head-on. I never
took a second to breathe, I wanted to keep learning, keep gaining experiences. Every
course, discussion group, research opportunity, leadership position I came across I
took on.

This drive led me to St. John’s. It is the GI, however, that has taught me the importance
of leisure, of taking my time with a text, of resting, and attending Friday night lectures.
Knowing exactly what I want to do left the idea of slowing down completely foreign to
me. I so pleasantly and gratefully learned that the best way to spend my life with these
great books is to do just that, spend my life with them. There is no rush.

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