Last week I shared a quote from Charles M Schultz (Peanuts creator) “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Is life a multiple-choice test or is it a true or false test?” …Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this, but life is a thousand-word essay.”
In my life, I have been a banker, and IT consultant, and a pastor of a church. I have earned two master’s degrees, one a Master of Divinity and an MBA. As I look back over my journey, I realized I never jumped into any of those positions because it was easy. Each time I started a new essay I did the research, sweated and had plenty of sleepless nights. While my journey has been a little crazy, I would not have it any other way. The common thread through my life is that I was willing to write an essay instead of choosing a 50/50 opportunity or guessing my way through a multiple-choice test.
My life essays have allowed me to meet a wide variety of people, visit several companies big and small. Along the way, I helped people make good decisions through assisting them good essays for their lives, companies, and organizations.
What is a life essay? According to Dictionary.com, an essay is a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.
In the case of our quote, I would say an essay is an effort to write the meme or/direction of one’s life. Life is not true/false or multiple choice. Life is much more expansive that only the essay can fully encompass what a life might contain.
I would say an essay would include:
- 1) What type of life do you want?
- a) be an at home parent
- b) entrepreneur
- c) IT administrator
- d) carpenter
- e) nurse
- f) writer or artist
- 2) What type of relationships do you want? Who do you want to surround yourself with in terms of the people you will interact on a daily basis?
- a) other at home parents
- b) creating sales opportunities meeting lots of people
- c) maybe your more of an introvert and want to manage things instead of people
- d) surrounding yourself with people who need help
- e) solitude so you can create
- f) family and friends
- 3) Where do you want to live?
- City, suburbs, rural, house, condo, farm?
- 4) What are more important people or possessions?
- Do you want to keep up with the Jones or do you want to know and treasure the relationships you have with the Jones family?
- 5) Do you prefer self-expression or doing a good job someone else designed?
- Do you want to be an artist or an accountant?
- 6) How will you give back to the community or will you give back?
- Volunteering is a way to strengthen your ties to your community.
- 7) Kids? No Kids?
- 8) Pets? Vacation places?
- 9) Homebody on the go all the time?
- 10) Hobbies?
- 11) Sports?
As you can see, there are many decisions you make to create a life.
Life is complex and ever-changing. The essay you write in your twenties will have a bearing on the essay you write in your thirties. The challenge we face is that every life decision has consequences and influences what happens in the future.
After I graduated college, I went home and felt the pressure to find a job. My dad had died four years ago, and it was hard for my mom and me financially. I had an inkling that I might want to be a banker, so I started working in a banking related industry and then for a couple of banks until I made a change.
I almost always worked Saturdays. We partied on Saturday night. Visited family on Sundays. On my weekday off I did things around my mom’s house. At night I studied for my MBA. It was a good life but a life that was not thought out well, except for my marriage to Karen. Marrying Karen was the best thing I ever did.
I would like to say that I had thought all of this through and had written an essay to match my reality. The reality was much different. Banking was a hot career. I will go into banking. Everyone was getting an MBA. Everyone was buying a house. Babies were everywhere. Looking back my decisions were made based on what other people were doing and not what I wanted to do. I was answering true/false and multipl- choice questions until the answers were no longer satisfactory.
After much prayer and pain, I decided to change careers, so I went to seminary to enter the ministry. The challenge I faced is that I had ten years of life I as a banker and thus I was saddled with those decisions. We had to sell a house. We had a child. I completed my MBA with a few student loans. We moved on campus only to move a few months later to a church parsonage. In fact, we moved five times over six years. Life was definitely on the move. It was after I decided to enter the ministry that I started writing an essay for my life.
After 40 years in the workforce, I have retired early to write and pursue other interests. I have decided to write another essay for the next ten years. I am much freer now because I only report to myself. Sure, I have family obligations like anyone else. There are hobbies and volunteering. There are friendships to continue and friendships to come. I have some model railroads to built and a wall quilt to sew. This is all part of my carry my essay.
This blog is part of my essay for life. I am outlining a mystery book and learning more about writing in today’s world as part of my essay. My life essay will flush itself out over the next month or so. Once I have written it, I will move forward because I have designed my life with my own hands rather accepting someone else’s true/false or multiple-choice questions.
Don’t let someone else determine your life! Take the time to think your life through, your full life with family, friends, vacations, hobbies, and type of work or service you will do. If you are willing to do that you will have written your life essay and life will be much more fulfilling and enjoyable.
May your best be yet to come!