Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Hoorays and Pre-destination

  • I am cat-sitting for Gary the Pinhead.  Hooray! Though our interactions consist of him hissing at me and my giving him food, I am having a grand time.  (Can you tell I am cat deprived)  Hopefully by the next week I will have figured out his favorite flavor of Friskies and he will let me pet his head.
  • Free laundry and freshly washed underthings.  Hooray!
  • Bright red tulips.  Hooray!
One day I will have a camera that can take a decent picture of bright red things in low light.
  • The new bearded dragon Stoneface was not dead, just very aptly named.  Hooray!
  • Stackable rings that come in multiple colors for exciting stacking action.  Hooray!
  • My hat has finally dried out from Monday's deluge, just in time to get soaked today.  Hooray!
  • I started looking for a job so I can pay rent when I move in a few months.  Hooray!  As part of the process I am mulling over what I do, what I want to do, and what I like to do.  Though I have caught several threads of my life that I want to keep, the rest is a jumbled mess because there are so many possibilities.   It's like a ball of yarn barfed up by a ballwinder that tangled everything when you weren't looking.  I keep pulling at different ends sticking out of the ball, hoping one path will obviously un-knot everything but nothing is coming loose.  I am, however, sensing a general theme emerging that is summed up quite nicely by this quote of Bill Watterson's commencement speech he gave to Kenyon:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them.

To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble.

Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it's going to come in handy all the time.

You can find the full speech here.  I've read it at least once a year for the past four years as preparation for teaching the ExCo course on Calvin and Hobbes but stumbled across it randomly today along with a Calvin and Hobbes strip about pre-desination.  Funny how those things happen.  


Dean said...

That Watterson quote is brilliant. But I wonder how much of that pressure he speaks are the expectations we lay upon ourselves. It's just hard to know what your life has amounted to when you're right in the middle of it. You think you've got a handle on it, then the next day something happens to shatter your whole conception of yourself and you discover you're not nearly as smart/dumb/kind/selfish/strong/weak as you thought you were. You don't invent your life so much as build it blindly through all the choices you make and all the connections you strengthen or weaken as you live each day. Anyway those are the thoughts that seem right to me today. I wish you the best of luck and greatest happiness in whatever path you decide to follow.

Ondrea said...

Thanks, Dean. :)