Sunday, January 04, 2009

I learned the wrong skills

This is partly why I mislike reunions of nearly any sort. People start asking the deadly questions, the ones that go... Are you dating anyone? When will you get married? Just what are you doing for a living now?  Automatically we start self-checking, comparing, evaluating relative worth in the most haphazard ways. Am I making enough money? Am I working in the field I originally studied for? Just how useless was my college education anyway? 

When my friend Nina started asking me (asking herself) similar questions it dawned on me that Kiosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) was right: growing up, we learned all the wrong skills. We never learned to schmooze, we never learned to prioritize money over learning. We fought with our parents, never realizing that our youthful ideals were nothing more than the fever dream of a youngish old man who never graduated from high school puppy love. Why couldn't we have played ball with the folks-- taken the courses they wanted us to, gotten the good grades, joined the right fraternity and whatnot--  and done our own thing after we got our safe jobs? 

My friend Burt basically said to me once that people who climbed Everest because it was there were nucking futs. Life was all about-- and I liberally paraphrase here-- getting rich, buying a house and car, attracting a girl with big boobs, marrying her, having lots of sex, popping out kids and settling down. Those who didn't think this way were likely prissy artistes who... well, at least Oscar Wilde (lucky bastard) was comfortable in his artistic uselessness.

I'm not. 

Growing up, I learned all the wrong lessons. I'll be honest and state that I may be too old a dog to learn the not-so-new tricks. I'll likely die poor, with nothing to give my life value except the little achievements that parents and people at reunions laugh at. But at least I'll change what I can. I can't be Christian and discount the fact that God loves everyone equally-- but that's what makes it moot. We're all affected equally by gravity--in fact we couldn't live without it-- but that doesn't dilute our admiration for the people who manage to fly.         

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