JuicyLesson #98: Values and making our own decisions in life

The following is meant to provide a different but related rationale for young people being given the space to make their own life decisions in the end, and for these same people to be held ultimately responsible and accountable for their choices as their life unfolds. Nobody knows you like you do and therefore your chances of being satisfied with your life choices vary inversely with the amount of input others have into the final decisions you make regarding profession, lifestyle and values. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Sometimes it works the other way, too. I distinctly recall my father, my mother and I strolling along Brighton beach where I was living at the time (1971) just prior to my first India adventure. We were discussing what I would do upon my return to Canada after my trip to the East and when I expressed a degree of trepidation regarding the lack of interesting and engaging career choices ahead of me, my mother asked why I didn’t give teaching a try, which I did and quite successfully too. So in this case my decision was made for me in a way and that was that. I was equipped to handle my responsibilities, loved every (or most) minute(s) of it and did a good job, to say the least. I can even recall when I was in fourth or fifth grade, volunteering to teach part of a class on the geography of Spain. I still remember the Meseta, a high central plateau covering almost half of Spain’s total land mass. Largely treeless and windblown, the Meseta is blistering hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. (Courtesy: Spain online)

I also remember the teacher coming up to me at the end of my presentation and asking me if I had made up my mind as to my career. She added that I would make a good teacher – this I believe was in Grade 4 at the tender age of about ten, a very passionate young kid! Another thing I learnt from this experience is that there is no better way to learn something than to actually teach it. Why else would I retain the word “Meseta” for around fifty-five years?

Although not applying in my case, the rule about making up your own mind remains standing in my opinion. In this case we can use the old cliché about the exception proving the rule. Make your own decisions and live as best you can with their aftermath. If first choices don’t work, admit that you have not been successful and start again as far as this is possible. Take advice as you think you need to.

Sometimes a student knowing in advance that his father or mother has a business just dying for an additional partner/worker/associate is not always such a good thing. First, I have seen examples of some students not expending their maximum effort because deep down they knew that their future is somewhat assured no matter how they do in school provided that they pass, and even in case of a student not being successful because of a distinct lack of effort on that student’s part, who knows – although I have informed some students over the years that if I was their father I wouldn’t let them through the door of my business establishment unless they pick it up, show some effort, some desire, in other words.

One time I asked a kid named Franklin what he planned to do when he finished the educational phase of his existence – because that’s all he was, an existence, no essence – and got the following answer: “My grandfather owns Pascals,” was all he said. Pascals was at that time a going concern in the hardware business but has since gone bankrupt. Two questions: Did my lazy student have anything to do with the bankruptcy and what did he finally end up doing when his future went up in smoke as it were? One more point, Franklin and his mom took me to an exclusive private Jewish golf club to play a round and I realized about half way through the eighteen holes why – as a kind of bribe so that the kid passed his sec. 5 geography course which he did if he earned it and which he didn’t if he didn’t. I was shocked when I understood the reason for my being treated to golf in a beautiful setting, all expenses paid. If I had realized what Franklin and his mom had hoped to gain, I never would have agreed to the game in the first place. What a dis on their parts to think that I could be bought.

Make your own decisions. Get out of your parents’ house as soon as you can, as soon as this becomes a logistical possibility in other words. Take responsibility for yourself. Have faith.

Happy New Year.

Peace. Out.

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