Friday, May 30, 2008

When You Grow Up

It is the end of my first week back to work after a week of vacation. Like Stella, I've got my groove back. (This is an obscure movie reference) In spite of that I am glad it's Friday and once again time for the weekend. Last night I went to the graduation and a dinner for one of my nieces. As she was walking past me with her classmates I found myself remembering her as an infant. Although she's had what many would consider a privileged life, she got off to a tough start as a baby. She had suffered a significant injury. I remember sitting in a hospital, holding her and rocking her, while her parents took a break. Now she is a young woman who will be going off to college soon. Later today I will be meeting some of my siblings and attending a luncheon at my father's nursing home. Tomorrow night I have another graduation party for another niece. I won't have much free time until Sunday when I will drive to the monastery and spend most of the day there. I wasn't able to make the trip last month so I am looking forward to my early morning solitary drive and the happiness of being in the country. It's a pretty drive. At this time of year the colors of spring have made way for the green lushness of early summer. Though the next few days will be very warm, we have not yet entered into the long, dry, and extremely hot weather of a Kentucky summer. When that arrives I will be hiding indoors as much as possible.

The monastery has a new and improved website. If you want to check it out sometime, go to

Yesterday one of my friends left for Spain to attend an international meeting. Three years ago the two of us attended the same type of international meeting in France. Looking back it was an enjoyable, though exhausting trip. I can hardly believe it's already been three years! Life goes by so fast! Slow it down whenever you can and hang on tight. You never know where it will take you.

Once I was asked if it was "weird" or unusual to be living your life and still wondering what you want to be "when you grow up". The following was my response.

No, I do not think it is weird that you feel like you don't know what you want to be when you grow up. I am fifty seven years old and I feel the same way sometimes. In all honesty, I think we are part of the majority rather than the minority. I find it interesting that your first question is "What do I want to BE when I grow up". This question is followed by the statement "this isn't what I wanted to DO when I grew up". I believe that our society places too much importance on what a person does to earn a living. In most social settings a person is more likely to be asked what they do rather than who they are. The reality is that most people are not doing what they love or dreamed about in their youth. Who of us hasn't had great dreams about how we would spend our lives before the babies came, we signed a 30 year mortgage, the water bill was due, or the car just stopped running? As John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.". How many waiters in LA restaurants really want to be actors? I am not saying to give up your dreams. However, you are not the first to get side tracked in a career or job that has turned out to be unfulfilling. Everything I have just said is the obvious. Now that this realization is weighing heavy on your mind and heart, what do you do about it in practical terms? What are you passionate about? I had a book once called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. Unfortunately I can't find the book so I can't give you the authors name. The title says it all. I think the mistake most of us make is that we work for money. Some of you are going, "Duh!" If money is the only thing that motivates you, you will never find happiness in work. You have to be passionate about more than money. Another thing I recommend is learning more about yourself in terms of your temperament and personality. Certain careers are more suited for some personalities than others. I know without a doubt that I am not suited to be a nuclear physicist. When the right person is matched with the right career and work, it is no longer work. A wise man once said, "Find work that you love and you will never work another day in your life." Have I followed all of my own advice? Am I perfectly fulfilled and happy in the work I do to earn my daily bread? Do you honestly think I stayed up all night in my youth dreaming of the day when I would be a claims supervisor in a large corporate setting? Are you kidding? In all honesty there are things I must do on a regular basis that give me little personal satisfaction. Am I doomed to a life of unhappiness? The answer is no. Sooner or later who we are will shine through. I find the greatest satisfaction in the things I do that are not part of my job. Do you think I get paid extra to write these daily thoughts? Am I on commission for the compassion I always try to practice with my co-workers? What about the counseling or spiritual direction I give those who seek it? None of these things are in my job description but doing them is part of who I am and what I bring to the workplace. Perhaps your work is only a background for you to be who you are as well. Make yourself your life's work wherever you are.

Old people don't get grouchy, grouchy people get old.

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