Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Back To School Message

I am troubled today. Not just by the uproar over whether the President of the United States should be allowed to address the future of this country as they start a new school year. As if in this day and age with 24/7 news, Twitter and Facebook any parent can completely control what their kids hear and read. No it is more than that.

I am troubled by a recurring conversation. I have a lot of friends whose kids are in or about to start college. Many of which have true passion for writing or acting or art. Yet their parents are encouraging them to do instead what they can “make a living” at.

Which is understandable. We all need to earn a living. But why is the idea of doing what you love and earning money deemed mutually exclusive? And why is it if the passion the young adult has is in medicine or law or in building machine guns it is deemed acceptable but in the arts not?

And why would they not encourage their child to at least try? Why at such a young age would we reinforce the idea that you don’t get to do what you love in life? Instead you get to do what earns a buck and only, if you are very, very lucky will you love it too?

Now I am not a parent, so I suppose some would say there is something I just don’t get. But I was a young adult once who heard the story about making sure you always had a job, whether you were happy or not and were earning money. I didn’t think work was ever about finding joy. It was something you did until, if you were lucky enough, you got to retire.

Turns out not many of my generation are going to see retirement any time soon. But if you are doing what you love, it doesn’t matter. There was a clip on CBS Sunday Morning this week in which Bea Arthur, before she passed, had been asked why she was still working. Her response was that only people who are in jobs they don’t like retire.

So here is my Back to School message. Do what you love. Find out what that is. It may be what you love is a lot easier to earn a living at than what someone else loves. But in any case, go for it. Try. If your passion is as strong as you believe the money will come. And if not, you will find another passion.

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