Monday, April 27, 2009

Finding your place in the world.

That’s not fair I never thought that would happen to me Why, what did I deserve to get this? Words we probably all have said at least once in our life, and likely will say many times more. Junk statistics and popular psychology tells us that “today’s youth has an unrealistic view of their future”. I think what they mean by this, is they are told they can do anything. Indeed you can do almost anything if you try. Try is the bit the youth forget. They assume a degree from a university guarantees them a high paid job. They assume they too can one day be president of the USA (or similar). What no one told them is that every dream requires work. Requires luck, and sometimes no matter how much we want that dram to be true, it cannot be obtained. We don’t prepare ourselves for failure. Indeed seldom do we have a back up plan. One of the best illustrations of this for me was when I was teaching undergraduate Chemistry. The freshman course, taught me how badly people want a dream but how poorly they chase it. In my University (University of Otago). The various professional health science careers (Pharmacy, Dentistry, and medical) along with law, have a cap of 200 entrants to the next year. Each freshman class is around 2000 students, and of those around 1900 of them think they are going to make it. Statistically, they have a 10% chance. What they also don’t know is it’s more like a 7% chance as the courses will also take graduates with degrees into them and show preference for that. But every year about 3 weeks out from the Chem 112 exam I would ask. “Who is going into Medical School/Dentistry/Pharmacy?” and then “So if you do not get in what will you do?” Every year the majority of these students had no back up plan. It was medical/dentistry/pharmacy school or else. OR the back up was one of the other professions. It’s not realistic if you do not have a back up plan. But we are taught to dream high. There is nothing wrong with that. But we don’t get the idea of “plan B” (and C and D). It is all about finding your path in the world. You should always strive, but you should also be prepared for the worst. One of the defining natures for a warrior should be how practical they are in a situation. By practical I mean being able to take action, and reduce or remove a problem with the minimum amount of fuss and bother. In the various Indo-European cultures there was the concept of “fate” or something similar. By fate, I do not mean the modern “it was destined to be and always was”. I mean the consequences of your actions and others actions is such that this is how you got here. To the Scandinavian and Germanic tribes there was Wyrd. To the Irish there was Dán. Many of us are familiar with the term wyrd. Sadly like many things the Neopagan subculture has latched on to it, and misuses it (appropriation anyone?). Dán (dawn) is very similar. It is about walking the path of your life, as you should. Your place in life is your Dlùth (dluck) is your true nature, the person you are meant to be. You walk a path to your Dán when you start becoming more and more like your Dlùth. Dán is something you have control over. Your actions bring you there; the actions of others too bring you here. But it is not set in stone. So a warrior when they find themselves in a situation, they should not spend too much time in moments of “how did it come to this” and “that is not fair”. The warrior knows life is not fair. Nor is it unfair. It just is. It is more important to deal with the here and now, than wonder how you could have stopped it. That is for after dealing with it. So a skill to learn is what is called “fast mapping”, where by you learn to deal with something as it occurs. Also observation is important too. Prevention is better than a cure they say, and the same goes for situations. If you prevent or reduce the problem before it occurs, you have one half the battle. In history wars are won with both those who adapt faster and better (fast mapping) and strategy (observation). Life is the same (and no I am not saying life is a war). We learn from our mistakes better than our successes. Similarly if we do not repeat mistakes, we are doing better as well. Finding a place in the world, and accepting that at this moment that is where you are will get you a lot further and make you a lot happier than denial.

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