One of the hardest things to deal with since our return from that incredible trip around the world? Accepted norms.
The other day I mentioned to someone that we’d like to do a long-term trip again. The person has been incredibly supportive of our trip from the moment we hit the road.
They saw what it meant to us. They’ve commented on how it transformed us.
It was why I didn’t even hesitate to share my excitement about what the next part of that dream might look like for us.
“We’d love to do it again, ” I’d burst out. “Not right away but definitely in a few years.”
I could barely get the words out before her response landed like a lead balloon on my dreams: “But you can’t take the kids out of high school.”
I didn’t respond.
“High School is a whole different thing than primary school,” she continued. “You can’t do that.”
She changed the topic then. Our conversation on that topic, in her mind, was closed thanks to her unequivocally stated fact of what I can and can’t do.
I didn’t try to change her mind.
That’s not my job.
But the fact is I CAN take them out of high school. In fact, I CAN decide to educate them in another country or not at all. They’re my children and the decisions I’ll make for my family lie squarely on the shoulders of Ish and I, and eventually the boys themselves.
My responsibility to my children, as I see it, isn’t to push them along the path that we’ve been told is the only path available. They will not self-destruct if they finish high school a year later, if they find their calling without traditional education lines or if they stretch it out til they’re 90.
I don’t want my kids to have a high school diploma, a university degree or a big house in a good neighbourhood unless they want those things for themselves.
I want them to live; not just to breathe and exist.
I want them to get up in the morning excited to learn. I’ve seen that happen in a classroom.
I’ve also seen it happen outside of one.
I feel that one of the biggest services I can offer my kids is to show them:
* that life is worth living for the moments and experiences that happen along the way.
* that education doesn’t only come from books and teachers who themselves may not have experienced anything of life because they too accepted the path full of “Can’ts.”
*that it’s the journey not the destination, especially since the destination involves a coffin.
What is the point of a poorly lived life?
What’s the sense in doing everything exactly as the system dictates it, if in the end you’re left wondering where the happiness went?
I know that there will be many of you reading this who will be uncomfortable with these ideas.
We’ve all been raised to think that things happen in a sequential order: schooling from K- 12, university training, great job.
I think our generation has already begun to unravel these “norms” but there is still a ways to go.
It’s what I believe to be true but I’m not trying to convince you.
And although you may start to think of me as a crazy “Neo in the Matrix” without the stunted speech and cool jacket, here’s my truth:
It’s all a construct waiting to be torn away if you’re willing.
The idea that life is a series of steps that must be followed one after the other or that if you somehow divert from the path you are doomed to an unhappy life.
That success lies on Bay St. or Wall Street.
That if you make more money you’ll be happier.
That you’ve failed as a parent if your kid doesn’t get the top marks at school, or do every after school activity or have a birthday party.
It’s all a construct.
I’m not the first to think so. Recently, I was introduced to the work of late philosopher Allan Hart.
I think we may have been separated at birth.
This. All of this.
And so I’m asking you: Are you questioning the Can’ts in your life? Shouldn’t you be?