What do you want to do be? This question that is asked more than any other from the time we can talk. Well meaning parents, teachers, and friends in an effort to get kids, teenagers, college students to talk ask what they want to be.
Since the time I can remember my dad, who is know 70 years old, has always said he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. A funny response has often brought me comfort. It might be because my dad not only said this, but he also lived it. He made a major career change right before his 40th bday… a career change that cut his income in half, but led to so much. It might also be because my dad has made even more hard career decisions that not only focused on income, but also person wellbeing. He has always been an example to me of how life can evolve and change at anytime… and that this type of change can be good.
I have often thought my career path has been a hodgepodge of decisions that have somehow led me to a place that finally makes sense. Many days, months, and years I questioned my decisions. I never felt like I was on a path life others… all I did know is that I was trying to be truthful to myself… maybe even to a fault.
Last week Keaton, our almost 8 year old, came into my room at about 5:50 am.
Keaton: I wake up early like a farmer.
Me: do you want to be a farmer when you grow up?
Me: what do you want to be? ( as soon as I asked this questions, I kicked myself… I never want him to feel like he needs to know what he wants to be… let alone at age 7).
Keaton: I don’t know.
Me: that’s ok, you don’t have to know.
Keaton: I know… it’s one of life’s greatest mysteries.
One of life’s greatest mysteries… in one short phrase, my son had summarized the journey of life. The idea that we should know what we want to be when we grow up is absurd… we don’t magically become something else as we get older… we evolve, we grow, we struggle, and we grow some more. Somewhere along the way we realize we don’t have to become anything different than who we are… instead we learn to fully embrace who we have always been… and at that point we realize we have discovered one of life’s greatest mysteries. It is not what we become, it is realizing we have always been all we need, we merely need to realize it.
How my almost 8 year old understand this is beyond me… I am only thankful he reminded me. It easy to forget that I am everything I need, I just need to embrace it.
It is just like at the end of Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is reminded “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”