A one-way ticket to the grave. That's what we all have. I wrote about it at one of my unschooling lists and then the thought really settled in. Parents of younger children often worry about college, worry about what their children are learning, worry, worry. I understand those heartstrings being pulled so tight you want everything to be perfect for your child. I do.
But I no longer relate to the worry. I no longer understand why college matters so much to some people or judging someone on the kind of job they choose to hold. I don't care if my child makes good money or chooses to drive or not. We've got a one-way pass to the grave people. A pass that can be re-called at any time. In the words of Mary Oliver; "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
One wild and precious life. One planet filled with people who don't think like me, places I've never seen or imagined and enough mysteries to keep me enchanted for always. There are miseries we like to look away from, starving children and wars and genocide that render such a helpless feeling. Right here under my feet there is earth to till and above me stars to inspire awe. There are children who need parents and trees that need saving. There is more here than we can take in. And people are worried about college?
The product-driven society in which we live causes people to look for end results. One must graduate with good grades, get into a worthy college and then the carrots just keep being dangled from there. People are looking for measured "success", for those marks that mean you're better than someone else. It's all a big mess of competition with no real end in sight. But the end is there even though it's not about success or grades or that "good" job. The end is death.
Parents worry about college, they worry about grades, they worry about what they're child is learning...forgetting all the while that in the life they've spawned they've also spawned a death. The end result of your parenting is death. The end result of your child's ambitions, of your own is the grave. That's it.
The great part is that realizing this can be incredibly freeing. If death is the final result of all your efforts, of your child's efforts, then why not do the things you truly find exhilarating? Why waste your time worrying about things that don't matter in the bigger scheme? Why choose worry when your wild and precious life is being used up?
It isn't that college is a less worthy choice, it very well may be a choice that is best for someone. The point is that we choose what matters most and with such a wild and wonderful world available, every one of us should be choosing things that make us content, that make us feel whole and inspired. Every one of us should hold that pass to the grave in front of our hearts and minds as the impetus for no-fear. There is but one end result for all of us. But between the time you get handed that pass and the time it is re-called, there are many possibilities....many paths, many outcomes, many stories waiting for us to create them.
For parents, that in-between time can be spent building rich connections with the world around us. As our children travel with us, we can be inspired so they can see what inspired people act like. We can focus on respectful,healthy relationships and being curious about the very community in which we choose to live.
We can choose every single day to approach this gift with awe, to approach ourselves and our own lives with interest. Our children can see what passionate, interesting people look like. I want to fill up my days with good memories, great conversations, laughter, hand-holding, questions and cuddles. Not worry about some imagined future. There is no time for that. My pass might expire at any time and baby, I've got stories to create! How are you using your "one wild and precious life"?