Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's important?

It's hard to know what to teach our kids. Technology changes so fast these days. Get just a little behind and you're out of the race. There's so much competition. So much to learn. How can we be sure our kids will succeed? Truthfully, we can't. There are no guarantees, the world can throw a curve ball into our plans at anytime.

Still, I think that there are some fundamentals that will make an individual successful in any time or place.

First you have to define success. Is it accumulating wealth? Knowledge? Achieving fame? While each individual in their own place and time will have their own definition, I think you can generalize to some degree. Real success is having work that you enjoy doing, a healthy family life, living in community with others, growing spiritually, having space for creativity. I would like my children to know how to accumulate wealth, but if they don't, it's ok. I would hope that they have a core base of knowledge, but what's more important is that they love to learn and know how to do it. I would actually hope they don't have great fame, tho' I'm not sure THEY would agree with that :-)

What I really want for them is to live a life worth living. I want them to have an examined life, an endless curiosity, useful work, a loving heart, a generous spirit, a worthy character... Oh, there is so much I want for them. How can I give them all this?

I can't. This is a gift they must give themselves. As a parent I have great influence, but not total control. So, what can I do?

I can lead through example, flawed as I am. Through history and literature, we can explore the lessons of a thousand lives. I can point out the wonders of the natural world and ponder the mysteries of the universe with them. We can share the glorious symmetries of mathematics, the emotional journey of music, the mirror of the human spirit found in art. We can work side by side learning daily skills and discussing philosophy. I will tell them what I hope for them, try to give them the tools I think they'll need in this world, and love them unconditionally. After that, it's all up to them.

How do you define success? What does it mean to live a worthy life?

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