parental philosophy and teenage confusion
I tried to have a philosophical discussion with my daughter last night. I failed miserably. It’s not because my daughter doesn’t have brains. She’s a sharp gal. It was more that I couldn’t find words that adequately described what I was trying to illustrate.
Here’s the thing.
I was trying to tell her that in reality we can be anything we want to be at any time just by doing it. For instance, I’m being a writer right now as I am typing this just by the fact that I am stringing words together in (hopefully) a fashion that makes sense to tell a story or – as in this case – to make a point. She herself is a soccer player just by going out on the field and playing soccer. She is a singer when she sings in the car or shower. An actor when she does her little video bits. A model when she takes pictures of herself. So on and so forth.
Then here’s the tricky bit, where I started to fail in my little discussion.
It’s when we start adding what I was calling The Dream to these activities that we start running into trouble. When we start to quantify and qualify what we are doing in levels. Sure, I am writing right now which makes me a writer, but when I add on The Dream of being a well-known, published and, of course, well-off writer that things tend to get off track. I start getting depressed when I realize that The Dream is not only incredibly difficult to achieve, but also more than likely unattainable. I catch myself not calling myself an author simply because I’ve never had a book published by someone else. This blog, to me, doesn’t count. I haven’t been validated by someone else’s money. That is what – to me – would make me good. It’s really a superficial definition.
I illustrated the odds by using football. When compared to the over all population of the United States those playing football professionally are microscopic in number, yet many people who actually do strap on the cleats and go out and play on a regular basis have The Dream to one day be a professional football player, when in fact they are already football players just by playing football. Adding The Dream and then not achieving it sends countless people crashing down into bitterness and despair simply from adding that extra level of desire and complexity to what they are already doing.
I think she finally got at least a glimmer of what I was trying to say. Which was be happy doing what makes you happy without stressing yourself out worrying about being famous at it or getting a lot of money for it. That just ruins both your happiness and the thing you enjoy doing.
It’s a lesson I need to learn myself.
But I’ve always been a crappy student.