All across the country it is back-to-school time and a strange truth is emerging. As proud parents take little Miles and small Suzette to begin their learning careers, everyone’s world shifts on its axis. Until now, those children were front and center. No more.
Parents gradually learn that Miles and Suzette are not necessarily the brightest nor the wittiest nor the… Their progeny are part of something now, not just the shining family person but one of many in that pre-K or first grade. That is good for everyone, to be part of something and not required to shine in front.
This is not a remarkable truth, although for some doting parents it is ice water in the face, as it were, but we need to refind that common core where we both enhance and rub against the other fellow. We don’t always have to be Number One. It is quite fine to be Number Seven or Eight. Or is it?
I have this topic on my mind since I have had three different occasions recently to read articles questioning the push to greatness. One highlighted the fact that people often find a job they love and which they do well, until someone suggests they really should think higher. “Why be satisfied with being a teacher? Shouldn’t you take courses and become an administrator?” You can replay this in every field: don’t be a floor nurse, be a supervisor; don’t be a salesman, go for manager. The end result? Frustration for some and the loss of good people in lower eschelons.
I am not against ambition. Aim for the heights, but make sure that is the height on which you can find your happiness, not one that cousin Roy wants for you. In this light, it is fine if Miles isn’t the star of the kindergarten play or if Suzette isn’t in the reading group you know would fit her better. Are they happy little people?
That might seem a strange goal, but I think it is so in line with the thinking of Jesus. Didn’t he begin his public ministry with eight rules for happiness? We too often forget that that is what “Blessed are—“ is trying to tell us.
For today, let’s look for happiness where we are, regardless of the goals we might also be setting.