As a mom, I find a lot of things I want for my kids, many of them are the same things they want for themselves. Hey, we all like candy and want spelling tests to be easy. Some of the things, I want for them are a little more… existential. Recently, I decided my eight year old son needs “a thing.”
Let me explain. He thinks he has “a thing” – X-Box. X-Box is not a thing. It is a time-sucker, which we disagree over. I think he has been on there long enough and he disagrees. Luckily, as mom, I win and off he goes to find something else to do.
And that brings us back to his needing “a thing.” You see, he is a happy-go-lucky kid. He doesn’t like competition and he truly could play electronics all day long. His siblings have things, for instance, his sister thrives on drama, the theater kind. I want him to have “a thing”, not just to keep the TV off, but to give him something greater than himself to care about. “A thing” would focus his energy and attention. It would bring other caring adults into his life, building a circle of accountability around him. Finding “a thing” is the beginning of being able to find “things” his whole life. He needs a “thing”.
“A thing” is the something you care about. But more than that, it is what you are excited and passionate about. It is what drives you and makes you get out of bed and put forth 100% again, even when you’re tired. I want for my child, what many grown-ups still need to find: purpose, passion, a why?
The other day I met a beautiful woman at a charity event. She was kind and funny and seemed like she knew what she was doing and why. I was pretty sure she had the grown-up version of “a-thing.” Two minutes into our conversation, I knew she didn’t. She had no idea why she was there or why it mattered to her, it was just an obligation she had to do. But more than that, her life didn’t have “a thing.” Even life itself was more of an obligation, than a destination. She wanted to have “a thing.” Our conversation took shape around how to find a passion and have it shape your life.
As we talked, I was able to share my “thing,” my why. I do what I do, because of my kids. The things I choose to spend my time on are filtered through my passion for them. Even being at this particular event, while it was keeping me away from them for the morning, was planned in relation to a larger goal. Now, I am not always this pulled together, but I do know what I want and where I am going. I have “a thing.” My thing does for me the same things I want “a thing” to do for my son. It focuses my energy and attention on something greater than myself. It brings other caring people into my life, and it builds a circle of accountability around me.
The “thing” my son needs and the “thing” this dear woman needs are not the same. None of our “things,” will be the same, nor should they be. They are only ours, if they truly reflect who we are. We know we have found the right “thing” when because of it, we are better. The trouble with “things” is, they are elusive and they can change over our lifetimes. In fact, most certainly they will and that is good. A forty-something woman and eight year old boy should probably not have the same thing, but they both need “a thing”. We all need “a thing”.
So here’s to us… to each of us finding our “thing.” Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!
Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014