We learned to play together.
We learned to get along with others.
We learned to paint.
We learned to put our things away.
We learned to work with clay.
We learned to sit and pay attention.
We learned to do things for ourselves.
How quickly I forgot.
My mother was an educator for most of her career and is the reason I still have the diploma pictured above. Molding young minds – mostly through play – she would patiently correct, teach and support the youth, like working with clay.
Caring, sharing, being kind, being helpful – these were the traits of a contributing member of the class. Cleaning up was praised, and focus was rewarded with experiences of wonder and laughter.
In the words of Anthony de Mello, we’ve all been programmed. Our experiences and interactions have shaped us, for better or worse. Over time, we have become deeply entrenched in our beliefs about the world, and often surround ourselves with people who affirm us. We think we have things figured out, and only are occasionally surprised by new ideas or happenings.
Something I’ve noticed recently is our tendency to ask about the future over the present.
The single being asked about meeting someone.
The dating asked about getting engaged.
The engaged asked about getting married.
The married about getting a house.
The homeowners about having kids.
You get where this is going, because it’s natural. I find myself doing it too. It wasn’t until recently when I was in a conversation with a friend, talking about education, when I realized the error in my programming.
I had developed a tendency to measure my worth by accomplishments or how I was progressing professionally and socially when compared with others. In the song Loosie, Thebe Kgositsile reflects,
Found a reason to live, doubt can be in abyss
Keep fallacies off your lips
Sometimes we forget the power of the words we say to others and ourselves.
When we convince ourselves we’re not doing enough, it can draw us down further.
Many commencement speeches mention the importance of taking risks and learning from failure. This is a positive trend, we’re moving away from the prosperity gospel optimism and embracing a world that requires grit. However, something that needs to be clarified is how we define failure.
To me, here are a few things that should not be defined as failure.
Not owning a home.
Being an addict.
Not having kids.
Not having a lot of money.
You get where this is going, because it’s natural. I find myself doing it too. It wasn’t until recently when I was in a conversation with a friend, talking about education, when I realized my error in programming.
Real success is what is listed on the pre-school diploma that hangs in the hallway of my apartment.
It’s a reminder of how my response to a life that seems to be so complex, should be very simple.
Play, help and care for others, express myself, be conscious of my impact, learn how to be malleable yet strong, stop and listen, not have to rely on someone else to fix my problems.
In many ways, everything I need to know, I’ve already learned.