Recently, while I was engaged in some serious train track construction with a little buddy, the topic of future employment was broached. While he was busy with the grapple, I was surveying which of the wooden track pieces would be most appropriate for our next section – curvy or straight. It was at this point that he laid down the eternally pointed question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Later reflection on this event led me to ponder the reason he felt, at that moment, to quiz me upon my future endeavours. Was it the fact we were engaged in a sense of play/work at the time? Was he secure in our relationship at that moment that we could share goals and wishes? Or was it that an oft repeated question was suddenly triggered in his mind? I’ll check off all of the above, and probably throw some other reasons in. The more important reflection about this question is the key verb found right in the middle: to be. He did not ask me: “What do you want to have when you grow up?” or “What job do you want to have?” The answer is quite simple, even though I avoided it at the time.
When I grow up I want to constantly be the person I am trying to be right now. I want to consistently be someone who puts the values I hold high – such as respect, caring, and dedication – into reality. I want to continue to be patient, and I want to continue to be someone in pursuit of balance. Some sort of answer involving these aspects would have been true to what I reflect on. It would have captured my sentiments about how important it is to bring out the being and not just the having. While playing with trains I was given the opportunity to focus on how one’s future can be about values rather than employment. However, I didn’t say any of this. Perhaps I was more consumed by the joy I was experiencing over a train set with a little buddy, than I was at making a point for the “adult” minds in the room (including my own).
Thus, I smiled, and talked the talk of dreams. I talked about how I once waited around for the Montreal Canadiens to call, but not so much any more. I talked about being a writer, being a coach, and thought about being a veterinarian and realized I was recalling all the wishes of my own childhood – how little things change. We didn’t talk for long though as our train track was the priority, and that was quite alright. Perhaps the lesson is to remember that our current hopes and wishes for the future should be balanced against our childhood wishes. Plus, the reasons for our childhood wishes can be balanced against the reasons for our current wishes. It was great that someone else besides me believes I still have a lot of growing up to do, and that I can still be anything I want.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
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