One of my all time favorite movies ever is Office Space. In this movie, the embattled Peter Gibbons deals with the stresses of working in the trenches (or cubicles) of corporate America.
In one scene, Peter and his fellow workers are standing around their cubicle and Peter says, “remember how the high school guidance counselor would ask you what you would do if you had a million dollars, and that was supposed to be what you were going to do for the rest of your life?”
The characters discuss what they would do and, of course, no one chooses their current lot in life.
Peter’s answer is probably the one that is most in line with my most honest career goals. “If I had a million dollars, I’d sit on my ass all day and do nothing.”
My friend Erica called me the other day in tears, but she could not figure out why she was so depressed. We talked a bit, and finally decided she was depressed because she was a senior. “What am I doing Rose? What am I going to do when I’m done?”
She is probably going to counsel troubled teens, but what she really wants to do is, “sit in bed all day and watch TV.” So do I. I mean, I am majoring in history. What the hell do you do with a major in history? Yes, that is right, you go to law school.
Whose solution is better? Mine or Peter Gibbons’? His is certainly the path of least resistance. Of course, you have to think of the stupid practical stuff like paying bills and health insurance. Going to law school is probably going to create more problems for me (at least initially) than it will solve. I’ll have spent $80,000 I did not have in the first place to educate myself and after all is said and done, I am probably going to have to bust my ass in a corporate law firm for a few years just to pay off my loans. I do not want to hear about working for some sort of law cause for peanuts, because my social conscience does not extend to allow me to be poor the rest of my life. I want to feed my children and send them to Catholic school.
I am, at most times, comfortable with this. Have I been brainwashed? Probably so. But I know I am not going to be able to support myself writing the Great American Novel. I read about people who drop everything to live their dreams and are so unbelievably happy. These dream-followers just do not understand why everyone else doesn’t do the same. Of course, you never hear about the people who fail miserably at what they do and end up living in Klamath Falls or some horrid place like that, where trees don’t grow.
None of this answers that eternal question we seniors ask ourselves. Of course there are those who are either very fortunate or extremely deluded and think they know exactly what they want to do when they grow up. What am I going to do? Why
am I doing this? Why can’t I just sit on my ass?
Thinking about these largely philosophical questions makes me want to curl up in my bed and watch TV all day. I wish there was some machine that would just do the work for me. I wish I was independently wealthy; money may not buy happiness, but if I had a million dollars, I definitely would not worry about finding a job.