Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Advice

So much advice available these days; How to be happy, how to make money, what is the best thing you can do for your children...much of it contradictory. I've been musing over various things for a week or so; this is my first installment.

Boy-child has been accepted into the University of Minnesota PSEO program for next year. We were a bit surprised, given that his grades are good but not brilliant, he had a meltdown his sophomore year and he wrote a totally outrageous essay for the application. We know a lot of kids who did not get accepted, and we felt it was a long shot. So I've been thinking a lot about what it was that got him in. My current theory is that the essay demonstrated his acute intellectual curiosity and that cinched it. In the essay he referred to The Turner Diaries, freedom of speech and censorship, the Winter War, time travel and various other weird, outlandish or just simply obscure things he's been reading about and investigating. In short, he was accepted perhaps not in spite of his own brand of strangeness, but because of it.

Which brings me to another essay I recently heard on the Sunday morning news show I watch. It was Ben Stein talking about asking his shrink, "What is the difference between happy people and unhappy people?" Apparently the shrink answered that unhappy people are the ones who always take the safe route, avoid risk and, as a result, often end up where they don't want to be. Happy people take risks, live on the edge (for various periods of time?) and do what they want to do.

Of course, it's rather self-serving, but I hope it's right, not just for Boy-child getting in to the U for being himself, but for me taking a relatively big risk job-wise this year.

3 comments:

samanthix said...

I think if you could answer the question about what makes people happy, you would solve one of the mysteries of the universe. You & Ben Stein are on to something, though ... taking risks is part of being your own person, which is a big part of happiness.

kmkat said...

Congrats to Boy-Child! I'm a little jealous, no such opportunities when I was bored in high school.

#1 Son wrote a similarly outrageous essay that got him accepted into med school. He wrote about being arrested at the 2004 Republican convention in New York City and spending 48 hours in an abandoned bus garage that had been pushed into service as an emergency jail, sleeping on a greasy, asbestos-ridden concrete floor using his shoe as a pillow.

kmkat said...

Congrats to Boy-Child! I'm a little jealous, no such opportunities when I was bored in high school.

#1 Son wrote a similarly outrageous essay that got him accepted into med school. He wrote about being arrested at the 2004 Republican convention in New York City and spending 48 hours in an abandoned bus garage that had been pushed into service as an emergency jail, sleeping on a greasy, asbestos-ridden concrete floor using his shoe as a pillow.