140 Characters- Teaching Boys To Be Men

(Hey Jeff Pulver, if you are ever in need of a character at a 140 Conference I can convert this post into a short presentation. Just saying. )

It is after midnight and the room is dark.  I am wearing an old headset, a sweatshirt and the shiny shorts that shone for the Shmata Queen. Don’t ask, it just kind of worked.

I am listening to Desperado and imagining that the song was written about me. Hmm…, maybe I should be listening to Carly Simon sing You’re So Vain. Anyway, the song catches my eye and my ears because of the combination of lyrics and music.

“Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table.
But you only want the ones
That you can’t get.”

It makes a lot of sense, the idea of being happy with what you have. It is not always easy to do and not because of social or cultural messages. Sure those things have an impact upon our thoughts so it would be foolish not to acknowledge them.

But what I think is a bigger issue is the challenge of understanding ourselves well enough to know what it is we need versus what it is we want. If you are one of the 17 long time readers of this blog you have seen the posts that tie into this in which I ask you to tell me what brings you joy, what makes you happy.

I ask those questions because I am truly interested but also because I have spent a lot of time searching my own soul for my answers. Some people grow up and know that they want to be doctors or astronauts. They have a dream and they follow it from the time in which they are little until they are so called grown ups.

I have had a lot of dreams. The first was to play outfield for the Dodgers. I still think about it, but at 40 I am slowly coming to accept that it is not very likely. Neither is playing for the Lakers. Both of those would have made me very happy and brought me great joy, but they aren’t part of my reality.

Blogging is a pleasure and an outlet because it provides an easy way for me to vent and gain a greater understanding of myself. This is where I learned that I really am interested in writing a book. This is where I learned that I want to write a screenplay.

Twitter ties into this because of the restriction on characters. 140 characters, that is all you have to work with. It forces you to take your message and to simplify it. Trim the excess fat off that puppy and make it easy to understand.

Brevity isn’t my strong suit so it is a great exercise for me.

It also ties in well with the lessons that I am trying to teach my children. The goal isn’t to try and have more toys than the other kids. It is not to have better toys, but to be happy with what you have.

But when I think of this I am thinking about this from a long term perspective. What can I do to help the kids figure out what makes them happy. How can I help them find their passion because isn’t that what we talk about. Don’t get a job, find a career.

Figure out what you love and then figure out how to make money doing that. Now some of this might sound like goofy, feel good crap, but it is significant.

To be clear, I don’t expect my kids to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I expect that their dreams will change and evolve the way that most of ours do. If they happen to be the exception I’ll be happy for them, but really it doesn’t matter that much now.

The important thing is to give them the tools to use to figure it out and then get out of the way. At least that is the general idea. I get to spend the next 100 years watching them to see how well they learned the lessons or conversely how well I taught them.

Either way it is an interesting ride.

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4 Comments

  1. Betsy Cross March 4, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Only a few of my kids really know what moves them. To them and to the rest the best piece of advice I can give them is to know your temperament well enough to know what money-making job you could tolerate while you’re finding out what is on the inside waiting to be discovered. And then make room for that thing to develop after hours, slowly and hopefully transitioning from a hobby to a paying career. My 13 yr-old I know would be content with a skilled job like welding, and that would open up his world to new opportunities where he’d find out what he’s really drawn to. Some of them are so distracted by their social lives that it’s going to take a while to rediscover themselves. And that’s just the way they are.

    • Jack March 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

      know your temperament well enough to know what money-making job you could tolerate while you’re finding out what is on the inside waiting to be discovered. And then make room for that thing to develop after hours, slowly and hopefully transitioning from a hobby to a paying career.

      That is the kind of advice that is worth writing down. It is practical and true.

  2. Hajra March 4, 2012 at 12:24 am

    The journey should always be more interesting than the destination. That is what my dad keeps saying. So, even if my time is rough now; if I sulk I will look back at it with regret. But if I am holding my head up high; then I will always look back and be grateful that I tried my best and I will be there!

    Twitter teaches us that, be happy with what you have … 140 is all you have; work with it! 🙂

    • Jack March 4, 2012 at 9:00 am

      I agree with your dad. It is important to enjoy the journey. If you get too focused on the destination you miss out on a lot of things.

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