Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

A Story by kyoung

Life's lessons and how they impact those affected by the current economy.

We come into this world depending on our parents; to answer every cry and provide every need. They work to clothe us, to feed us, to keep us safe. Once we take our first steps, we are encouraged to keep walking. To go after what we want; that treat or that toy. They encourage us. They believe we can do it.  As we get a bit older, we learn the importance of being kind. And that , if we don't play fair, we don't get to play. We share our toys, but we still know they are our toys. We learn to be patient.

We go off to school and learn from teachers whose goal it is to help us grow. To teach us a broader understanding of the world and other cultures. To reinforce social norms and help instill tolerance of people who are different from us. They grade us on our efforts and our performance. We are selfish, even lazy at times. We still want what we think we deserve. And, sometimes, we would rather play than work. Not just in school, but at home. Our parents explain, through their words and actions, that life does not work that way. That we can not always get everything we want. That there are others to consider. They explain the "golden rule" and tell us things like, " the early bird catches the worm,"  how important it is to, "teach a man to fish," and that, " it is better to give than to receive." But, we are also taught that if you give something, you often get something back. Lose a tooth? Put it under your pillow and get money. Good all year? Santa Claus will reward you with gifts. Do chores? Get an allowance. Work hard? You'll get to play.

We go to churches, synagogs, temples and mosques; where were we learn about faith and sacrifice. Pieces of information go here, bits of emotion go there. Our minds expand. Our hearts inflate. We witness family values, community support, unity. We take holy communion, get baptized, recognize Jehovah, celebrate Hanuka, or praise Allah. In believing in something larger than ourselves, we learn to believe in all things. We learn that love can destroy hate, prayer can reduce sin and that faith can move mountains. We learn we are not all perfect. We all fall. We all fail. We all bleed. We also learn that there are some things we can not change. Like, the roll of an ocean tide, the thunder during a storm, or the anger in a persons heart. We can not control others; how they live their lives or the choices they make. But, we can lead by example. We can believe in them and encourage them. And, when they are weak, we can strengthen them through our strength.

As the years pass, we grow taller - older- wiser. We still like to have things, but we realize we have to work for them. We get jobs. We reap the rewards of earning our own paycheck. We realize we can have almost anything we want, if we just work hard for it. We save for dates, cars and college. Time is divvied up: school - work - play. We explore our hopes and dreams for the future; what we want to do, who we want to become. We plan for higher education. We concentrate on our grade point averages, volunteer for community services and participate in extra curricular activity's. We explore our options: In state? Out of state? A.A? A.S.? B.A.? M.A.? P.H.D?  We learn that a higher education equals a higher paycheck. We make a decision. Commencement day arrives and our parents watch as we walk across the stage. They remember our first steps. Cheers are shouted, smiles shared, tears fall. Before we know it, we are moving away from all of the comforts and security we have known, to a place of uncertainty and boundless opportunity.

We adjust to our new environment by implementing the lessons we have learned from our parents, friends, educators, clergy and employers. We are excited and nervous, but we are hopeful. We expand our studies in topics like; science, math, politics and technology. We process and sort information through logic and reason. We juggle our schedules to participate in sorority's or fraternity's, and work study programs. We establish bonds and friendships with people from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds. And we learn that there is a difference between having friends and keeping friends. The lens we look through to see the world is widened. We begin to see the horizon. The goals we set for ourselves, the dreams we never gave up on. They are within our grasp. And, if we strive for them, we will reach them. We  know it, because we have been told that our entire lives. The match of hope was lit within us and we let it burn. It gave us the ability to believe and the desire to succeed.

We graduate. Some with honors, some not. Some debt free, some not. But, we graduate. We cheer for each other, smile at each other and cry for each other. We know how hard we have all worked. How we have fought for that A, or studied twice as long for that B. We have seen tired eyes and, sometimes, defeated spirits. But, we have also seen each others determination and resilience. We are the future leaders and entrepreneurs. We know that future is bright, because we can see it's light off in the distance. We run toward it.

We accept, or create, incredible job opportunity's. We awake every morning excited for the new day. We take home decent paychecks. We have 401k's, insurance and get paid time off. We have the latest gadgets, eat the finest food and take annual vacations. We buy a home, entertain friends, and raise our children. We teach them the same lessons our parents taught us. We live the American dream, because we dared to dream. And it is a dream worth having.

Then, just as we are living that dream, something happens. Life as we know it changes. We get a pink slips. or are forced to closed our store doors. Our 401k's shrink. Our homes are foreclosed. Our health insurance lapses. We can not afford to fill up our gas tanks, if we still have our vehicles. We are buying five pounds of ground beef, for twice as much as it cost us before. We are trying to make it last an entire week. We are trying to rob Peter to pay Paul, but even Peter is broke. We know something is very wrong, because the government is doing the same thing. Some of us are considering bankruptcy because we used up our retirement savings. We apply for jobs. Any jobs. We don't hear back. Twenty-three million other American's are out of work, or under employed. They are applying, too. We don't want to ask for government assistance, because we know it is not their job to take care of us. Some have had to ask. They are embarrassed, but they have tiny mouths to feed. They swear that "if" the economy improves and people start hiring again, they will gladly give up the assistance. We believe them. Because they have worked hard all of their lives and are not afraid of work. After all, don't we all want to be self-sufficient? It is not so much about the money, it is more about self pride. Sure, there are those who like the hand outs. They have always been there. But, for those who have no other choice - they are grateful . They re-evaluate their lives. They make promises to themselves that, " when things get better," they will help others in need. They will make a difference.

When the world goes crazy, hard choices have to be made. Choices about short term career goals, finances, living arrangements, children's educations, what you can live with and what you can live without. You have done the hard work. Now, you just have to work harder. You have to remind your self, opportunity does not always knock loudly. Sometimes, you have to be still to hear it. You have to have a conversation with yourself. Discover what ignites a flame inside of you. And what brings you joy. Once you find that, you have found the key that unlocks the door. It all begins with you. With each individual. It does not matter where you came from, or how you got to where you are. It matters where you are going. It matters what lessons you chose to take from the experiences you have had and what lessons you chose to dispose of. In the depths of despair, you can gain fortitude. In times of uncertainty, don't give up. You may have to work two jobs. They might not even be in your field. You have to hold on to the lessons and values you grew up with. Keep walking. We all fall. Some things, we can not change  Most of all, you must keep believing in something larger than yourself.

The dream is still out there. Be patient. Soon, you will see that light in the distance burning bright again.

© 2012 kyoung

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Added on September 20, 2012
Last Updated on September 20, 2012
Tags: self realization, politics, economy, life, hope, religion, unemployment