Wednesday, May 12, 2004


At a meeting today, I was reminded of my experience as a "Big Sister" a couple of years ago. My match, upon our first introduction let me know that she wanted to be a store manager when she grew up.
"And if not a store manager, then a cashier. And if not a cashier, then a person who stocks the shelves..."

Being a store manager seems like a pretty worthwhile living. What struck me was that her goal was something she was proud enough to have dreamt up that she introduced herself to me with it. It also struck me that her goal seemed a bit fixated on stores.

After a few questions, I learned that at some point in her family's past her mother had been a store manager. (For some reason, the position wasn't permanent.) This position, in my little sister's eyes was the Big Time-- and she was aiming for it.

I made a point of exposing her to wider selection of Big Time careers. I brought her to my alma mater and gave her a tour of the engineering classrooms; I talked to her about friends in medical school, friends graduating from law school, friends working as professionals in different fields.

Almost immediately, her visions of her future reflected the input. From "I want to be a singer" one week to "I want to be an engineer" the next, it seemed clear that her imagination had been given a little more wiggle room within which to play.

At any given point, there are countless possibilities open to the average adult. But, just like the many children out in the world who have no idea what possibilities are open to them due to lack of exposure, many of us adults are walking around with blinders on. Where do the blinders come from?!

And, if we manage to remove the blinders or catch a glimpse beyond them-- what keeps us from heading in a new direction? Fear, stubbornness, pride, misguidance? "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"?

At that same meeting, someone quoted Scott Fitzgerald
Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.

How do we learn to start over? How do we learn that it's okay if we might have to start over in the future?

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