There's Room At The Top, They Are Telling You Still

This page written circa 27 November, 2003.

I was never a driven student. I did little homework while attending high school. I went to university without much clue as to why, apart from having the marks to get in anywhere and having no other appealing alternative; I chose courses on enrollment day, at whim; I eventually settled into electrical engineering because it seemed like it would be a doddle compared to the alternatives. I changed enrollment to Medicine to prove I could, but never felt truly attracted to a life of repairing the "peasants" and never took up the opportunity. I became a journalist because it seemed like fun, an academic because I discovered I liked teaching while doing a postgraduate degree, a degree taken up from lack of serious alternative vision. It is a good thing I did not marry before I was 40, as I would have been doing the wrong thing. I really had no particular idea what I wanted to be doing. I was only saved by my teflon soul.

I do not wish to suggest I was listless or lazy. On the contrary, I was energetic and busy. In 1977, one girl asked another "how do you keep up with him?". I simply concentrated on having fun. In comparison to some others, I was not paying a high level of attention to my material future.

These days I have changed: I know myself, and I know what I want. By the time I got married I knew it was right for me to do so. I was ready by the time we had Merinda and Edwin. I knew I could move to California, and I wanted the job here at my dream company (the HP of the 1970s). Nothing seemed hidden inside me.

I would probably be a whole lot better off materially if I had got my act together a decade or two earlier. If I had truly got my act together I would probably have enrolled in science and then law. I imagine my friend Dan had by the time he reached university more career direction than I have now.

For all the lack of ambition, I am not unhappy with my life, since leaving high school. I have not made many mistakes I could have avoided. So what does tomorrow hold?

Amelia visited us this month. She has ambition, but perhaps not the career choice that was available to me. A minor reason for her visit was to collect on a bet, made when she was about 5 years old. I bet her that she would kiss a boy before she was 16 years old. I made the bet to encourage thought on the subject. She remembered the bet in spite of it not having been discussed between us for years, so the thought happened. Sadly for both of us, I lost the bet. Amelia is awfully straight; she seems to lack what Dumbledore describes as Harry Potter's "certain disregard for the rules". Before age sixteen, Carolyne's daughter had been in the bars of Oxford Street, and similarly Kay, but not Amelia. (Honey, where'd we fail?) I will do my best to see that Merinda and Edwin are a little more like Dan with respect to ambition, more like Harry with respect to rules.

There is a "healthy" degree of disrespect for rules. One can flaunt rules to a healthy degree, not too much, not too little. Harry has it about right. Getting a decent thrill involves pushing the regulatory envelope.

What I am endeavouring to convey in this page is that there are many aspects to building a successful existence. "Success" seems to me to be advancing, but not necessarily in one particular area.

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