My five year old asked me that just the other day. Without prompting of any kind.
I looked at him, quite seriously, and said, “A Writer.”
I said, “What about you?”
He said, “A Pokemon collector.”
Now you might not see this as a great career option, but let’s face it, there are people who do this kind of stuff professionally. As parents, we don’t think this way. We try to steer them logically to a more security – driven profession, or even worse we might tell our five year old that his dreams are not realistic.
But you don’t see what I see.
I see this kid in the playground, the centre of attention as he splays his cards for the crowd to check out. He is in top form as he laughs, calls out the names of the cards and declares whether they are good or bad. He enjoys the spotlight and ensures, in someway that it is on him.
He also climbs like a monkey, is street wise in a way I can’t put into examples and shakes off getting into trouble like water off a ducks back. He does his own thing. He can’t sit still and he is sweet and funny and mischievous.
My older son, also loves Pokemon but he loves the methodical nature of collecting the cards, storing the information, and doing this utterly fascinating (and sometimes tedious) thing where he can recite all of that information back to me by rote. Even before he learned to read he had all the (thousands) of skylander names and their powers stored in that amazing brain of his.
Julian is social, kind and dreamy but he likes order and doesn’t like getting into trouble. He conforms which is a good thing and a bad thing.
These are gifts shining with in them. They are not obvious like that of natural athletes of mathematical genius’s but they are just as important to recognise.
These gifts, these pursuits, interests, passions can become the joy of our lives and who are we, as parents, to tell them that they are not warranted, not important, not something to spend time on?
Now I am not saying that I haven’t banned them numerous times or that they should be allowed to just ignore everything else and do just what they enjoy, but I think we need to be more aware of their joys.
We, as a society, as a culture, as a human race, are naturally inclined to compare what we have to what others have.
What we need to teach them, what we need them to know and understand as they grow up is that comparison is futile.
There will always be someone prettier, funnier, more intelligent, more together. BUT they don’t have what they have. The ultimate uniqueness of being themselves.
Sometimes its hard to put into words why you admire others but as I get older, as I learn more, I’ve realised that the people I admire most are being the most authentically themselves. Because they embrace themselves and are at home in their own body – the Universe conspires to give them it’s abundance.
You want to be around them. They are attractive. They live a life they love. They are doing what they are doing for the pleasure and passion of it, and in turn, giving service of some kind to others through this awareness of their gift.
That is the kind of children we should be raising.
But at present, we seem to be more concerned with the fact that we might miss our children being next Tiger Woods, than encouraging them to be the best Harry, Johnny, Isabel they can be.
Our children do so many multiple sports, music, swimming, extra school lessons that they don’t often get time to work out what they like and who they are. They barely get play dates because there literally is no unscheduled time for some kids.
We might be covering up their gift of writing poetry because they are at basketball practice and have no time to be dreamy.
The ancient Indian text, The Bhagavad Gita states, “The Gift is indestructable. It is a seed. We are not required to be God. We are not required to create the seed. Only to plant it wisely and well.”
As parents, what we don’t want to do, is help our kids cover that seed with so much dirt that it may never see the light.
And we don’t want to do that to our own gifts, our own passions and dreams either.
Don’t you find it amazing that there is such an incredible range of interest, talent and diversity in people’s career choices? Some are naturally inclined to science, some medicine, some administration and some the arts…and so the world turns.
There is a reason for this and the Bhagavad Gita calls it Dharma. Your purpose. It is like you have been programmed with the gift that the world needs and your life’s journey is to figure out what it is and give it to the world.
Dharma is born mysteriously out of the intersection between The Gift and The Times. Dharma is a response to the urgent, though often hidden need of the moment.
An example is that maybe activism and woman’s rights have always held an interest for you. Maybe you work in politics or for a charity and then Trump gets elected and you find yourself, with your gifts, in the perfect space for connecting woman together to rise up and challenge inequality and injustice. This is the intersection between your Gift and The Times and your purpose unfolds.
I love this quote from Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose”
Do it on purpose. Be more you. Be more authentic. Stop doing what you ought to do, what you have been told you should be doing, what your friends are doing and do what you want.
This quote from Robert Frost describes how I felt after I uncovered my seed. The seed that was so buried it took the tragedy of death to dig it out.
“They would not find me changed from him they knew – Only more sure of all I thought was true.”
We must stop encouraging our children to look elsewhere for happiness. We must stop the busyness and start listening to their thoughts and dreams and only provide encouragement. They will find out in life if they need security, a steady job, to have a year off, to live extravagantly or simply. They will make their own mistakes regardless of how much cotton wool we wrap them in.
The biggest mistake of all however, is ours if we bury that seed before it even gets a chance to bloom.
The tree of life has many branches, many different ways to climb but you must choose the one that resonates most with you and often, its the road less travelled, the one that is scary, lonely and risky and that’s why the path is so hard to take.
Image credit: http://www.saintpour.com.au