I live in suburbia with milquetoast people that have no flair. It’s no wonder that these people aren’t living their life but that of others, usually their kids or even their friends’ or relatives’ kids. Oh, you can get pulled into something your wife or husband is passionate about, but I see the desire to help kids excel as a dominating force on many average married families. It’s pretty sad.
Shining the spotlight on our life for a moment. We have two kids that are in activities. We spend time going to soccer games and music practice and engaging their interests, often going against our own desires to be doing something else. But our lives do not revolve around the kids. This kid-centric mentality has serious issues of entitlement and disharmony, and tilts the whole family dynamic off-kilter. It’s something I wrote about in my book, but don’t touch on much here. If mom and dad don’t have any other interests that spur them to learn or grow, you have a major problem. If the sole purpose of mom and dad is to be the chef, chauffeur, and deflector of angst and difficult situations for little Johnny, that’s a major problem as well. Kids model their views of the world after their parents. If they think the world revolves around kids, that sense of entitlement carries forward into future generations. You’d think this message would be obvious but it’s not.
I see too many friends and acquaintances of ours who are grasping for meaning in their lives. Since none exists, they glam on to anything that seems worthwhile, kids being the low hanging fruit. Other beneficiaries of this mentality include Facebook, Instagram, NFL, and Netflix. This vacuum sucks in the minds and souls of people, and has people living vacariously through the highlights of friends shown on Facebook (by the way, not real life people, just the tip of the iceberg) or susceptible to the influence of Madison Avenue thinking that a coach purse or a BMW will make them happy and fill that longing in their soul.
So fighting against this, here’s what you do: Find a Passion. Find a Hobby. Find a way to engage your brain and hopefully your body in a way that brings meaning to you and maybe the world as a whole. I don’t care if it’s knitting or hoverboarding or spending time playing cards at a nursing home. Be an example for your kids, a picture of strength on how to be an adult and do adult things, and not a vampire that sucks entertainment and meaning from your kids.
What happens when the kids grow up and leave? And you’re left looking at your wife thinking “what now?” Or when you can’t or don’t want to work anymore and are figuring out what it means when that centerpiece of average worker bees is taken away? My boss will work until he dies because he has nothing else that gives him passion. Bummer.
Take a look around and see if I’m not right. Then take a look at yourself and see where you fall in the spectrum. Don’t know where to start to find a passion or a hobby? Start by reading. Go to the library and pick up a magazine. Anyone will do. Modern Family Circus or whatever that goofy shit is called. Photography Monthly. National Geographic. Expand your world view. Find a thread of something that mildly grabs your attention and follow that thread. Then follow the next one that somehow ties into the first, even if it takes you in a completely different direction. Learn. Once you start seeing these threads and learning you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere that tickle your fancy and drive you to be a better version of yourself. You’ll read books. Maybe you’ll start meditating (I like the Headspace App). By challenging yourself and not accepting the fact you’re just a frumpy soccer mom, or a balding middle-management dad who’s just floating through life, you’ll find meaning. Meaning your kids will see and maybe learn from as well.
So by all means, encourage your kids to be awesome at whatever interests them. Run them around and enjoy your games. But when you’re done and you’re home from another tournament or match, find something that gives you meaning. That inspires you. Stop living your life within a vacuum, letting whatever matter passes by draw in your spirit or interest. Instead, create inspiration and passion that others can model. Find hobbies that bring joy to you and others. That’s meaning. That’s life, not the Fakebook lives so common today. Right?