Okay, that opening title is a bit dramatic.
First, as my wife reminds the kids–and me–we don’t HATE anything. π
Second, even if I DID hate something, I don’t REALLY hate museums.
At least not all of them, just certain kinds.
But what was valuable is that I learned something this week about myself. And, Pascal would be so proud of me right now, because you know, the whole “to know oneself” line of thinking was so important to him.
And, really it is to us if we’re to find our purpose in life, to pursue it with a relentless passion, to be living in your destiny (or working towards it), you gotta know yourself. What you like. What you don’t. Where you’re good. Where you’re not. Why you’re doing what you are, and what you should quit doing as well.
This week I made a decision.
I’m not going to any more museums having to do with crafts, ceramics, or archeology. Period. At least not on my own accord.
I am sick of trying to find these things interesting, just because other people do or this is something culturally that is “smart” of me to do (and I am convinced that 50% of them are also faking it, like me, but just doing a better job). I really don’t care whether, Mr. Curator, there exist 2,000 little clay cups in your museum, that perhaps there was a ceremonial cleansing cup that forged together two Continents. In fact, it’s highly irrelevant to me whether they came from Costco twenty minutes ago or a big dig that resulted in a revelation dating back tens of thousands of years. And finally, Mr. Curator, if you give me one of those defibrillator-looking digital “walkman” player to hang from my neck, that is probably riddled with head lice from the 10,000 other people who have worn it proceeding me, it still doesn’t make me more interested. In fact, I think it hurts the cause. Because now I feel obligated to hear the five minute history lesson about the clay pot that I already had seen too much of when I walked briskly by.
And, this week, officially I decided, that I will quit trying to be interested. Here’s the point of the story:
We’ve got to find the undercurrent of what gets your hot buttons. Too many of us go through life trying to do what we’re supposed to do because someone else thinks we should do it because someone told them it’s important. And, really, maybe it doesn’t mean snap to you or me.
Now, before someone thinks this is a good excuse to exercise out of discipline, learning, developing a well rounded personality, and on don’t misunderstand. I love space and science museums, I’m fascinated by some art museums. I love reading. I love language and culture and discussing deep subjects with people. I have even been known to love Readers Digest (big print version only, it just seems more appropos). No, my kids won’t get out that easy either. We will still continue family field trips, they will still learn about things they might not care much about, I will also force them someday soon to have Wall Street Journal article reviews on Friday nights as I had growing up. But I have decided, at least for me, at the magical age of 36, it is okay to decide to quit pretending or to try to force yourself to like something you really don’t and never did.
So this week, that’s what I learned about myself.
Which, upon reflection, is both silly and profound to me. Silly, because it’s simple and somewhat the humorous example (part of it has to do w/ the fact that I didn’t last 15-minutes in a museum that was to take me 3-hours one evening to fully explore). Profound for me, though, because it made me really consider that we can spend our lives trying to do things that we don’t love, or weren’t meant to do, and we’re living in our own personal prisons that have been created by perception of what’s important or intellectually trying to chase the proverbial Joneses (whose ubiquitous family, I would challenge, to a Raz Family Wall Street Journal Review contest any day of the week).
Today my message is as simple as an “I hate museums” shout-out to all those across the World (please, once again, no flaming emails; I’m not using the expression in a pejorative way, rather I’m stating it in this kind of wittingly clever sarcastic manner–and in no way do I intend to discriminate or discourage those who love museums of crafts and artifacts, let’s just not sit together at the next dinner party) to discard the pursuits that aren’t of interest to you, that suck energy out of your life without providing a tangible and disciplined return to you in some way, and to bypass the things that’s keeping you from unlocking the excitement and energy that rests within you to pursue something with rigor and passion that either serves you, serves someone else, or serves your purpose.
It doesn’t mean that we should love everything that we do, a good part of finding your purpose and passion involves the discipline of education, investment, time, energy, exercise, whatever. Just make sure there’s a reason for doing it, other than because someone else thinks you should.
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