Creating a Different Way Forward
“No one lies on their death bed and wishes they spent more time at the office.”
My dad shared that adage with me at some point in my youth, which was ironic, because my dad sure did spend a lot of time at the office when I was a kid. Luckily he’s not yet on his death bed, and has been making up for it.
Now I share it here, with next generation irony, because my office is wherever my computer is, and I sure do spend a lot of time at it. I am in no position whatsoever to remind anyone that there is more to life than working, because lately, working is my life.
But of course it isn’t. My children are my life, my husband, my family. This is what matters to me. So why is it so hard to put my work away and be with them?
This is common, I think. We have to work! The tricky part is sorting out when we have to work, and when it’s a distraction and easier than living. I frequently tell myself that what I’m doing is essential, and then later I can’t even remember what it was. Lost down some rabbit hole of Getting Things Done.
But even more than the loss of time with my kids, I worry about what I am demonstrating to them. That this is what life is. Work. Put your head down, get it done, then make some more of it. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.
It’s not just me, of course, or parents. We start people on this focus of Getting Things Done quite early. The things don’t have to matter, or be relevant, or be fun. You just have to do them. Because. That’s how it is.
Of course, when we look up for a moment we can see how it really is. Some things are great and wonderful and beautiful, and some things are not. Depending on where you’re sitting, the Not varies in how obvious it is.
The trajectory of our head-down get-it-done focus is clear, and dire, if we want to look. We can keep plowing forward, straight off the cliff, or we can look up, reconsider, and change direction. I’m not that hopeful, to tell you the truth. Realistically speaking. But I am hopeful enough to try. Hopeful enough to devote myself to creating different ways forward for young people- an alternative to the head-down plowing method.
Which is all well and good. But can I do it in my own life?! That’s the trick. Oh so easy to share quotes with others and encourage them to look up and engage rather than hide in their work. Less easy to do. Especially when what I’m doing is Important. :)
Excuse me while I close my computer and try to live for a minute. Best of luck to you, as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine has spent her career creating alternative educational options for young people. She led the program at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Hadley for more than a decade, and is now Co-Director for LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke. Catherine resides in the Hilltowns with her family and aims to live with gratitude and serenity, achieving this about 15% of the time.