As part of a lecture to high-schoolers on existentialism, I outlined their lives like this:

“Yes, middle school sucks, but you’ll be happy when you get to high school…Yes, high school is hard, but you’ll have a great time in college…Yes, you’re about burned out on college, but when you’re in your career you’ll have it made…Yes, this job is killing you, but when you climb a little higher on the ladder, you’ll be happy…Yes, you’re fed up with the working life, but just wait till you retire…”

My students’ faces showed their shock and despair at the realization that striving doesn’t bring happiness. Their parents and teachers had used that elusive happiness as a carrot to lure them on to study, excel, compete, and struggle for a GPA, an interview, an acceptance, a scholarship, or an award.

Products (or victims?) of our materialistic, American-dream society, young people can be forgiven for thinking happiness can be bought or earned by hard work. As they mature, we expect them to let go of empty values and realize the real sources of happiness are intangible, maybe even spiritual. However, as I look around at many of my “mature” friends, I see that age is no guarantee of letting-go. Many still cling to the possessions they have accumulated over a long life of collecting, even though they complain about being slaves to their stuff. Can you hear the cosmic laughter?

Note: this blog is from A Doubter’s Devotional 2, chapter 3, available here on Amazon:order here

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