Are You Keeping Up With the World?

Here’s a pretty good question: “Are you keeping up with the world?” Or do you feel you’ve done enough and can coast the rest of the way in.

Well, you may or may not be surprised to learn that by far the great majority of people feel they’ve got it made. Apparently, they must feel they’ve got it made because they’re not doing much to improve themselves. They expect the world to change; they take new and better things for granted; they are amazed at nothing new under the sun, but like Arnold Bennett’s “cat by the fire” they are dozing away their lives.

Why don’t you make up your mind to do something worthwhile for a change? If you’re one of these tailgate feet draggers, this year would be a good time to start.

This thought came to me as a result of a letter I received from an old friend of mine in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This delightful woman decided she wanted to do something with her life other than just watching the world go by.

She found herself past the age of forty, wanting to become a school teacher. So, she went to college. She will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. She finished 3 years of college in two, which isn’t bad for a woman of forty-five who also has a husband and a home to care for. She was on the honor roll the whole time and plans to earn her M.A. in 3 summers. She’ll be a full-fledged school teacher next year. An interest in children had turned into a career that will last a lifetime. Women like Kate Moulds of Benton Harbor are wonderful, and we could certainly use a lot more of them.

How can you compare her to the idle, bored, listless, frustrated and uninteresting women of American suburbia? You can’t! And the best part is that the Kate Moulds are a thousand times happier. They’re fulfilling themselves; they’re contributing instead of feeding on society and usually criticizing their lot in life.

Now I’m not saying that everyone should become a school teacher. I know women who, if they followed that course, could set education back a hundred years and seriously traumatize hundreds of innocent little kids.

What I am saying is that everyone should do something worthwhile – become interested in something and do something!

Earlier I made reference to Arnold Bennett’s cat. His entire quotation goes like this: “I think it rather fine, this necessity for the tense bracing of the will before anything worth doing can be done. I rather like it myself. I feel it is to be the chief thing that differentiates me from the cat by the fire.”

He’s right! It does take a tense bracing of the will before we can do the things we know we really should be doing. It might be going back to school – it might be taking and completing a home study course in writing, flower arranging or how to mount an elephant. I think my mother picked a good one. She spends most of her time working in a children’s hospital. It gives richness and meaning to her life. She’s loved and needed and recognized by a lot of wonderful children.

Each of us has a special talent and usually know what it is or thinks we do. Why not devote this year to exploring yours? Ask yourself: “What differentiates me from the cat by the fire?” Then, don’t brood about it but do something about it.

You might try asking yourself: “If for some reason I suddenly found myself alone in the world, what would I do that would fill my days with interest and meaning and reward?” The answer to that question can change the course of your life.

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