We’ve all heard that it’s important to be passionate about what you do; that good mental health mandates that we enjoy our work and look forward to going to there each day. Then there is the real world where there are traffic jams and broken pipes, fires to put out and apologies to make. There are days you’d rather be…insert your favorite hobby here…skiing, cooking, reading, dancing, playing with the grandkids, etc.

Then there are the days when I’ve said ‘this is what makes it all worthwhile’. I had one of those days while sitting in on a scholarship selection. I have changed the names but you’ll get the drift.

  • Scene One: selection committee has narrowed it down to the top finalists. This program is not for the academic elite, but for average to above average high school seniors with financial need. There are A LOT of finalists. You can imagine the wall clock moving slowly as the hours pass.
  • Scene Two: one of the selection committee members shows an application to another who wipes his eyes after a minute or of two of reading. I’m wondering if he’s losing his concentration due to too many personal statements to read. He passes the application to me and says ‘this will put things in perspective’.
  • Scene Three: THE READ…I’ll paraphrase, here, but our average high school senior is talking about graduation day. The future looks bright, she’ll go to college. She wants to thank her Mom and Dad who gave her the chance to have an education-not an uncommon theme among essays-then she says something like: ‘…when my parents were growing up, they did not get to go to high school. They’ve given me that chance. When my parents were in their teens they did not get to go to the mall and hang out with their friends. There was no mall, but just a field to work from dusk to dawn. I’ve never been hungry in my whole life or cold, or scared that I would be hurt by a neighbor. I’ve also never been told I should feel guilty for all I have, but only that they are the lucky ones. They are lucky to have 3 healthy kids who love to learn. With all these things for which I am so grateful, the most IMPORTANT (she capitalized this in her essay) one to me is that I will be graduating in May with my father who decided to get his GED at 45 so that he could continue to be a role model for his kids. We’ll be walking down the aisle and receiving our diplomas together. We will figure out how to afford school. It’s the only option, but it would sure make my Dad proud if I could show him how his support has paid off…;
  • Scene Four: the Kleenex, the attitude shift, the traffic home just really is not a big deal. Here’s wishing you a similar experience !