The Philosopher's Cornered
What Should I Be Doing?
by Dan Wolaver
first day at YMCA camp we were each given a card with a schedule of the
choices of activities every hour through the week. There was a
space next to each activity for a counselor to sign that we had
participated, and some recognition was given at the end of the week for
full participation. I planned each day, making sure that each hour
would be filled. Then on the third day there was an hour when
nothing really interested me. I could have done archery again, but
I didn't care much for it. Then it dawned on me that I really
didn't have to do any of the planned activities, and I didn't have to
So I went and lay on my bunk and read for half an hour. Then I went for a walk by myself in the forest and found a hat that I recognized as belonging to one of the counselors. As I picked it up, a huge tarantula scurried out of it, up my arm, and fell to the ground. What an exciting, new experience! So for the rest of the week I just did what I loved doing rather than what someone else thought would make a good camp experience. It was a very freeing feeling.
As I began having to decide what to do with my life, it felt as if my friends, my parents, and God were watching to see if I was making the right choices and not wasting my life. The "schedule card" seemed to be: get a good education, get a well-paying job, become famous in my field, and raise a model family. But what kind of job would be the most meaningful? Was being an engineer a greater help to mankind than being a musician? What should I do with my free time? Was maintaining trails in the local park more meaningful than bowling?
Looking back, I realize that no job is better than any other. A farmer that loves working the land has as valid a job as an actor that loves to entertain or a factory worker that loves to do his job well and enjoys his coworkers. Collecting stamps as a hobby can be as fulfilling as following sports or handcrafting furniture. The key is that you love what you're doing. You don't have to follow someone else's idea of what to do with life, and that's a freeing feeling.
Life doesn't come with an instruction manual that explains why we're here and what we should be doing. Everyone has to work it out for himself. My guess is that the manual would read: rejoice in life and love more every day. Nothing else brings real happiness or inner peace. But love needs a means of expression, and that can be as varied as the individuals that constitute mankind.
And that's my philosophy.