This I Believe

Garrrett - New Berlin, Wisconsin
Entered on December 3, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work
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I believe that enjoying the present is just as important as working toward the future.

Throughout my life, everything appears to be just a preparation or a stepping stone for the next stage in my life. Pre-school gets you ready for elementary school; elementary school gets you ready for middle school; middle school gets you ready for high school; high school gets you ready for college; and then college is a preparation for the so called “real world”. I wonder sometimes, what will life be like when I am graduated from college? I mean, everything I do is in preparation for something else, so what happens once I reach the pinnacle?

The problem with this view of life, I realized, is that there will never be a pinnacle. Even once I am a thirty-year-old working stiff, I will still be preparing for something. I have been focused on making a lot of money so that in the future I can send my kids to good colleges and set myself up for a good retirement. Then I thought, well what happens when I reach retirement, what am I preparing for then? Grandchildren? 75th birthday? Death? When does all of this end?

One day after school, I was sitting on my counter, cramming myself for a test. I flew through page after page of notes, trying to memorize everything I could as fast as I could. Okay, so in a purely monopolistic market this happens, in a purely competitive market that happens, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da. Then, my little brother tugged at my pant leg.

“Garrett, will you play hockey with me?”

“Not now, not now. I’ve got to study, Gavin.”

He sat there, this desperate look on his face with his eyebrows raised and his eyes sunken in as if pleading me to just play with him.

“Garrett, you never play with me. All you do is work, work, work. Please play!”

I looked down at him and thought about it. Looking back on the things that I had enjoyed in the past few months, I realized that there wasn’t much there. I was constantly doing work for this and that, that I forgot to just relax and hang out. I mean, I didn’t spend much time playing sports with my brother, I hadn’t been able to hang out with friends as much; I don’t know, I guess I just let work sap all of the fun out of life.

It’s an odd anomaly; when one spends all of his time working hard and getting good grades and making a lot of money and all that, what has he actually achieved? Nothing. When thinking about all of the basic things that we feel like we “have to do,” I realized that we really don’t. Life should not be about constantly working toward the next step. Life should be about living the present. Whether that means relaxing with your friends, hanging out with your family, or playing some backyard hockey with your five-year-old brother, the most important thing should be enjoying what you have.

Now, I am not saying that we should never work toward the future, no-no-no. I am just saying that our society promotes this view that the future is ALL that matters. We must realize a simple balance, enjoying the present

and working for the future do not have to be mutually exclusive, and nor should they be. In order to actually live life to the fullest, we have to realize that enjoying what we have now is an absolute necessity.