There's something missing.
A popular book that launched recently spot-lighted '101 Places to Get 'F*ed' up Before you Die'.
Now, I'm of the belief that individuals are free to choose how they want to use their short time while on this spaceship we call 'Earth'. But I had to say to myself,
While the book is probably written for twenty to thirty somethings, immediately the picture came to mind of where this path will eventually lead… to a dirty, old man, his hair long and stringy, face wrinkled and gaunt - the story of too many drunken nights and too many miserable mornings written all over it. He's alone in the world, because even in a crowd full of reveling friends you can still be alone.
His kids (he has several) can't stand him. He's never been there for them. His wi(ves) curse his name. He was a cheat, a drunk. And when he finally meets Death face-to-face, who will be there to bid him farewell? Maybe his booze buddies?
But he's crossed off nearly every one of those 101 places to get f*ed up. He's achieved his life pursuit! Woo hoo!
This is the lifestyle that society is (perhaps inadvertently) promoting? For those coming-of-age, are we teaching character development or demolition?
…there's something seriously missing here.
Now I'm sure the authors did not write the book as the 'holy grail' of how your life should be spent and of what they think matters most (it may have been written simply as good marketing).
But if it doesn't really matter (at least when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of what's truly important), then why pursue it as something to accomplish before you die?
Perhaps this is part of the problem. We're not making the connection between what we pursue (even passively) and how our lives (and families and community and ultimately the world) will end up.
What about a list of '101 things to do before you die' that are actually of consequence?
Alright, so maybe you spend some time partying in cool places around the world, but at some point aren't you going to grow up and do something significant?
Contrasting the dirty old man, is an image of my brand new baby and her five brothers and sisters, and the kind of culture we're creating for them as a family. It seems that each year, raising children becomes (more challenging and) more rewarding. I love writing, I love creating and pursuing my interests and passions. I love the work I do.
But I can't imagine anything with more long-lasting significance than raising a family well -- molding and nurturing human beings and shaping the future of the world.
That needs to be on a list of '101 things to do before you die'.
But where is that list? Where are those people?
It seems that much of society has become a conglomerate of self-interested, self-indulging egotists who's major purpose is self-fulfillment -- whether through career development, autonomy or lotus-eating (a great little phrase used to convey the idea of someone who spends time indulging in pleasure as opposed to practical concerns.)
Where will that leave them in sixty years? Who will take care of them when they have Alzheimer's (as my grandmother now has)? My own father died at age 47, in a room full of people who loved and admired him, and waited and watched (and then wailed) as he took his last breath.
Is that what you're preparing for when you're checking off your 101 things? Is that where it's leading? Because once you've chosen the path, you've chosen the destination (thanks to my hubby for that quote.)
And single, partying twenty-somethings aren't the only guilty ones. Even as parents and spouses we're far more concerned about struggling through our personal problems -- and numbing their stresses with pleasureful indulgences -- than we are about consciously directing our own development, and raising our kids to become somebody more than who we've become.
There's so much potential for unbelievable happiness and fulfillment, but it doesn't come from the pursuit of 101 personal pleasures. It comes from mindfully directing, shaping and molding your life into something that has meaning. And then mentoring those around you to do the same.
That's what's missing here.
People are confused about the difference between pleasure and happiness. Happiness comes from pursuing purpose, not pleasure. Happiness comes from contribution, not egocentricity. Happiness is found in family, not frivolities.
Too many people are stressed out and miserable, and much of that misery is happening at home where contention is more common than cuddling.
Our lives aren't being directed, they're drifting, from one party to the next, one sitcom or reality show to another.
Is that the culture we want to create for our kids? Is that the vision we have for our world?
So what's the point?
The point is, we (Greg and I) see that something is missing.
Family's aren't being formed, and if they are they're falling apart. Parents are confused and overwhelmed, children are left un- or mis-guided. Family's are lacking a foundation for creating something truly fantastic, instead of just becoming another statistic.
Our family is far from being perfect, but we are in the pursuit of being the best we can. We want meaningful, deep relationships with each other and each of our children. We want excellence in our education and our life's work. We want excitement, passion and fulfillment. We want to really live and contribute, and not just wallow in the mire of mediocrity and meaningless amusement.
That's why we created Fantastic Family Fridays.
It's a place where each week we can focus on one aspect of raising children to become contributing adults. How about that for a pre-demise pursuit?
When you reach the end of your life, how will it be? Will you be surrounded by people who love and admire you, people whom you've mentored and molded? Or will you have flunked at one of the most important jobs you could ever have?
How much importance will you place on the profession of parenting?
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Why Our Culture May Be Flunking at Raising Children and Other Things That Matter http://t.co/BNzmFNhlxK via @rdenning
Thank you for stepping up to say what IS really important in life, and to point out our cultural drift into egocentricity. You have my support. I’d like to provide a link to an interview I was honoured to conduct and write. The link takes you to the thoughts and words of my boyhood hero, David Suzuki.