140 Characters- Teaching Boys To Be Men

(Hey Jeff Pulver, if you are ever in need of a character at a 140 Conference I can convert this post into a short presentation. Just saying. )

It is after midnight and the room is dark.  I am wearing an old headset, a sweatshirt and the shiny shorts that shone for the Shmata Queen. Don't ask, it just kind of worked.

I am listening to Desperado and imagining that the song was written about me. Hmm..., maybe I should be listening to Carly Simon sing You're So Vain. Anyway, the song catches my eye and my ears because of the combination of lyrics and music.
"Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table.
But you only want the ones
That you can't get."
It makes a lot of sense, the idea of being happy with what you have. It is not always easy to do and not because of social or cultural messages. Sure those things have an impact upon our thoughts so it would be foolish not to acknowledge them.

But what I think is a bigger issue is the challenge of understanding ourselves well enough to know what it is we need versus what it is we want. If you are one of the 17 long time readers of this blog you have seen the posts that tie into this in which I ask you to tell me what brings you joy, what makes you happy.

I ask those questions because I am truly interested but also because I have spent a lot of time searching my own soul for my answers. Some people grow up and know that they want to be doctors or astronauts. They have a dream and they follow it from the time in which they are little until they are so called grown ups.

I have had a lot of dreams. The first was to play outfield for the Dodgers. I still think about it, but at 40 I am slowly coming to accept that it is not very likely. Neither is playing for the Lakers. Both of those would have made me very happy and brought me great joy, but they aren't part of my reality.

Blogging is a pleasure and an outlet because it provides an easy way for me to vent and gain a greater understanding of myself. This is where I learned that I really am interested in writing a book. This is where I learned that I want to write a screenplay.

Twitter ties into this because of the restriction on characters. 140 characters, that is all you have to work with. It forces you to take your message and to simplify it. Trim the excess fat off that puppy and make it easy to understand.

Brevity isn't my strong suit so it is a great exercise for me.

It also ties in well with the lessons that I am trying to teach my children. The goal isn't to try and have more toys than the other kids. It is not to have better toys, but to be happy with what you have.

But when I think of this I am thinking about this from a long term perspective. What can I do to help the kids figure out what makes them happy. How can I help them find their passion because isn't that what we talk about. Don't get a job, find a career.

Figure out what you love and then figure out how to make money doing that. Now some of this might sound like goofy, feel good crap, but it is significant.

To be clear, I don't expect my kids to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I expect that their dreams will change and evolve the way that most of ours do. If they happen to be the exception I'll be happy for them, but really it doesn't matter that much now.

The important thing is to give them the tools to use to figure it out and then get out of the way. At least that is the general idea. I get to spend the next 100 years watching them to see how well they learned the lessons or conversely how well I taught them.

Either way it is an interesting ride.


Unknown said...

Sometimes it takes a long time to sort out what you want and only by doing many differnet things do you arrive where you were meant to be.

I tried architecture, marketing, and finance but ended up being a writer. Strange journey maybe but ultimately, I've never been happier.

Heather at My Coupon Coop said...

I'm so glad I found your blog, Jack. We are so much alike and ponder so many of the same mysteries.

Appreciation is a key to happiness. And I like what you have to say about appreciating and enjoying what you have. That totally goes against everything I've ever been taught. To sit back and appreciate, and enjoy, I fear being enveloped by entropy and struck by stagnation. We must constantly fight to maintain even our present state of happiness. And we are losers if we don't want and demand more for and from ourselves. (This is what I've been taught.)

But I'm beginning to really believe that happiness and joy and self-actualization lie in the inherent truth that is somehow obscured from us, that should appear so obvious upon recognition.

If only I could go back and do it all over again, Jack, if only. :)

Jack Steiner said...


I can relate. I have been a bunch of things, hence a "Jack-of-All-Trades." The hardest part sometimes is identifying what it is that you want to do.


There are two different themes if you will in what you are saying, or at least how I interpret it.

There is the material and the mental. The mental part is where I still try to truly push myself. That is where I try to keep slugging so that I keep learning and become better at some things.

On the material or possession side I am working on identifying exactly what I need so that I can focus on just those things.

And I would go back and do some things differently. No movie star ending where I proclaim that I would do it all the same way again because I wouldn't.

john cave osborne said...

alright, i'm down. officially. can totally relate to every word. i will say one thing, though... everytime i look into my "rearview" mirror and examine days gone by, i won't allow myself to question my path, only to celebrate my good fortune.
desporado, why don't you come to your senses? (i'm gonna end up attending a Laker's game w/ you before it's all said and done with...)

Jack Steiner said...

(i'm gonna end up attending a Laker's game w/ you before it's all said and done with...)

Sounds good to me. I love my Lakers. Can't wait to see them repeat.

Sire said...

The problem with kids is they want what everyone else has and they want it now.

I've always tried to give my kids things that they needed more than what they wanted. They wanted a mobile phone as soon as their friend got one, but they didn't get it until they had to rely on public transport to get to high school which was years down the track.

I've always been thankful for what I have rather than being sad for the things I lacked.

Jack Steiner said...


I have had that very discussion with my kids about cellphones. Not going to give them one until they really need it.

Too many parents just give in without considering the consequences. I refuse to be one of them.

Kikolani said...

You may not be able to play with the Dodgers, but you could always play with an amateur baseball league. My husband is starting to do that now. Although it isn't the same as playing professionally, he still gets uber excited just to be playing again.

Jack Steiner said...

You may not be able to play with the Dodgers, but you could always play with an amateur baseball league.

That is a good idea. I might have to investigate that. Could be a lot of fun.

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