Steve Charles—I was editing the upcoming issue of Wabash Magazine with its focus on men’s health and all I could think about was Garrison Keillor.

The author, humorist, and host of A Prairie Home Companion also hosts The Writer’s Almanac, heard daily on NPR stations across the country. It’s one of my favorite moments of the day, a settling reminder that there have always been people who see contemplation, words, and stories as a way of life, and he signs off with “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

I’d already decided we’d call this issue “Be Well," but thinking of Garrison saying it as both admonition and blessing affirmed my choice. It got me wondering, too, how he might answer the question my colleague Kim Johnson had asked dozens of alumni for this edition: “How do you define well-being?” In other words, I wanted to ask him, “What do you mean when you say, “Be well?”

So I did.

There’s a place on his Web site called “Post the Host” where Garrison answers questions from listeners—some really interesting answers, too. They get a lot of questions and only post a few, but I thought, It can’t hurt to try. So I sent in my question, got an out of office reply back (this was right around Christmas Day), and figured that was that.

Until Math Professor Will Turner emailed me Friday with a link to the “Post the Host” page and Garrison Keillor’s answer to that very question we’d asked our Wabash alumni, students, and faculty. Because I indicated I was from Wabash College, he must have thought I was a student (and I always will be, so that’s fine by me), but his advice is no less relevant regardless of one’s age, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his thoughtful words.

So take a look at this “Wabash Meets Lake Wobegon” moment and Garrison’s thoughtfui answer (and good advice for students young and old). Here’s an excerpt:

"What you hope for in life is a sense of a calling, a vocation, which simply means that one goes to one’s work gratefully, not out of fear or habit but with a whole heart. It’s the whole-heartedness that makes for well-being. Everyone has to live with a degree of doubt and restlessness, but there’s nothing like enthusiasm, especially when you’re 67."

Take a look at the comments, too—a lot of folks had their own take on our question.

And if you’ve got a second, let us know how you would answer that question: How do you define well-being, and what do you do to achieve it?

Just post a comment or send your thoughts directly to me at

And that’s the news from Wabash, where all the students are above average.