Climb Everest or Mow the Lawn?

June 1, 2011 12:42 am Published by
     The Globe and Mail’s weekend addition always has a great obituary section that I read without fail. In addition to an obit-itorial, often about a world figure that has passed away in the preceding week there are family sponsored obituaries about local citizens. I would presume that the quarter page in which some families invest is not an inexpensive proposition. Consequently, the folks of whom you read, are usually what one might consider high achievers. It is never less than a humbling reminder of how little I have accomplished in my life when I read about someone that graduated law school at 23, then earned a degree in architecture and designed museums in Europe, or an engineering degree before building rapid transit in China, and climbed Everest for the second time to celebrate their 40th birthday before spending the rest of their working life raising funds for their personal charities.  By way of comparison,  I on the other hand managed to read the entire paper, drink three cups of coffee, and mow the lawn all before noon, before spending the rest of my day completing just enough chores to justify the nap I’ve felt coming on since 11 am. Some people it would seem are destined to do more, reach higher, give more and learn more.  As for me, I’ll take two hours on my lawn mower overMt. Everest any day.
  My wife was recently involved with assisting an eighth grade graduation ceremony. As part of the planning process of the event, students were required to put in writing goals they held for the future. Some wrote detailed accounts of their aspirations ranging from attending medical school, or studying architecture, starting families, and owning their own home, travelling or even living abroad.  These students also spoke openly about their faith, and wanting to make a difference in the world.  When hearing these accounts, I wondered to myself if these would be the students that might celebrate their 40th birthday on Mt. Everest. On the other end of the spectrum, one student aspired to be funny and enjoy their friends. Another wanted to be a professional paintballer – which sounded to me like a fancy word for unemployed. While a reasonable initial reaction may be to admire the ones that seemed to have their lives mapped out, in truth it was the funny guy and the paintballer with whom I could better relate. When I was in eighth grade I was more concerned about whether to watch Gilligan’s Island or Happy Days, which through no small misfortune aired at the same time. Decide on my future? Not a chance.  The only thing I knew with absolute certainty is that I didn’t want to get into real estate.  The rest, was wide open.
  It’s great when an eighth grader has adult aspirations. However it’s also the only reasonable time in ones life to hold eighth grade aspirations.  Anyone with kids of their own – at least those parents with kids out of diapers – knows that growing up comes too quickly as it is. Would I have achieved more in life had I been a better student in eighth grade? Maybe, but my lawn looks pretty good.
Thanks for reading,
Jeff Neumann

Comments are closed here.