Since we only get one shot at life, (even if you believe in reincarnation you can’t remember your other lives, so same thing) wouldn’t it be prudent to try and make it one wherein we are most happy? My very prescient daughter recently posted the following quote on her Facebook page:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment.I told them they didn’t understand life.” -John Lennon ♥ ♥
What’s the point of spending 18 years of life studying for an advanced degree if you are miserable doing it? What is the point of a career if it doesn’t fulfill you? What is the point of a big house and lots of stuff if your family is broken and your marriage empty?
It seems to me that much of our culture these days, particularly that sector focused on ‘education’, is missing the point. Nobody really expects kids to love school. They do expect them to say they love it when asked (or at least like it) but most of the stories that are told regarding school, whether from kids still there or those of us for whom it is a distant but hardly faded memory, are about the bad stuff; the teachers and/or classes we hated, the kids who were mean, the boyfriend who dumped us, the cute guy who never asked us out, etc. I can think of exactly one person who told me recently that she did love school – got joy out of being there and doing the work – and she homeschools her kids.
John Lennon’s answer to the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ is really the only answer. Happy. If you can be happy working in a bookstore, then do that. If happiness to you is spending your day mowing the grass or weeding the garden, then perhaps you should work in landscaping or lawncare. During the six months that Joshua and I lived in Pennsylvania, just before Ben was born, we met a guy whose business was mowing lawns. He owned a massive machine that could mow an acre in about 20 minutes. He absolutely loved his work. Usually he would forget to charge me and I’d send him a check once a month without ever receiving an invoice. Some would say this made him a bad businessman, but I knew that for him, the pay was secondary. Had he been able, he would have done the work for free because it made him happy. I have no idea what kind of educational background he had, and what does it matter? Nobody gives a college degree in ‘how to be happy’. You’ve got to figure that one out on your own.
I’ve said this before, but one of the things life learning has given my kids is the freedom to do things they enjoy and that make them happy, for as long or as short a time as they choose.
And really, that’s the point.