A hundred years ago, I was a young boy watching mtv on this new thing called cable television. On this channel they showed me all kinds of worlds that existed outside of my four walls. I saw that there was a group of folk who liked to talk while music played behind them. They called it rap and I saw it ONLY on Yo, Mtv Raps. I saw that there was a bald guy named Pinfield who like loud and fast music with a story and his stuff was on 120 Minutes. Then there was the daily dose of bubble gum pop music. Madonna. Nina. The Bangles. Midnight Oil. U2. On and on.
I pretty much had charted my course on what style of music I was going to spend most of my summer watching. That is when I wasn’t at a geeky choir rehearsal. Or biking all over the city. Or avoiding the Scout troop because I lacked focus. When suddenly it happened.
I saw a music video of a kid who was being hassled in school. Worse that Pink Floyd I saw a teacher literally foaming at the mouth. Leering at the boy in the video. The male teacher was angry at something the boy had turned in or failed to. The teacher was quickly going from zero to 60 and the sweat on his brow was testament to his increasing frustration. Meanwhile the boy sat the completely unruffled, nonplussed, and passive. Finally the punch line came from the man who clearly had tired of his tirade and demanded of the slacker youth:
“What’re you gonna do with your life?!”
The kid sucked his teeth and said with conviction, “I wanna rock.”
And Twisted Sister jumped out and blasted chord upon chord of fever pitch music.
But I was left with the question too. What DO I wanna do with my life? Honestly up until that point I was unsure. I’d been witness to my grandfather and his profession of janitor. My grandmother and mother both being nurses. My mother would half teasingly ask me if I wanted to be a nurse. I wasn’t enlightened enough then to know that men COULD be nurses. Plus the hours were ungodly. So what in fact DID I want to do?
Frankly I believe that had I seriously considered that question then as I do now, I might have made different career choices. Not to say the path I took was a bad one. I regret nothing. Many folk change careers half way through life as I did. But the question I wish if been challenged with as a boy was two fold:
What of you want to do with your life?
When you are 50-60 years old, will you STILL want to be doing this?
I believe that every child should be asked this question at several points in his or her young life. The answer surely will change each time it is asked. One year he will want to be a spy. The next year she will want to be a geologist. The following year he wants to be a rocket scientist. The next year she wants to be a professional DJ. But the key to a fulfilling life is that we must as adults take a child under wing at some point and not assume they’ve got it all together. Not assume dad or mom have had that talk with them. Not assume that they chose well on career day at school. Not assume the Scoutmaster or minister or teacher or a close friend had asked them anything about their future.
Let’s face it. Most children do not nor should they have long vision for the future. Their own in particular. Besides. The future is not set. God has given us free will and choice. Our paths are our own and only we can walk them.
But if no one takes the time to shine a light on that path. If no one sees us as lost or at least ambivalent youths with more years ahead than behind. If no one takes an interest in our children’s development if only for selfish reasons to assure the economy isn’t entirely peopled by lazy bums in 40 years. If we choose not to do unto the least of these….
Then what twisted future have just assumed ourselves of?