Watching the Olympics on TV while eating a bag of Cheetos makes you contemplate some rather uncomfortable questions. What makes these beautiful competitors different from the rest of us, as we sit on the couch with an empty cellophane bag and orange, Trump-colored fingers? (This is no disparagement of the sainted Cheeto—a tiny unit of snack paradise. Is this a great country or what?)
It is always tempting to think that, DNA aside, these amazing athletes discovered their passion early and followed it with bull-headed intensity, never giving up. As for the rest of us, including our students, please have a look at the commencement advice from reality TV star and pitchman Mike Rowe. You can get the particulars from the clip. For a celebrity, he makes some very wise points, and seems way smarter than those creepy dudes on "Duck Dynasty."
Passion is good. We wouldn't be sitting here without it. But it is fleeting. When we ask a kid what he or she wants to major in, the answer may be the result of a recent and ephemeral jolt of enthusiasm. Sometimes this sentiment is easy to detect, such as if a freshman says she wants to be a Ghostbuster. But other times it's more insidious and, before you know it, the student prepares for a career that will bring unhappiness. There is more to majoring in chemistry than wearing a white lab coat. Like math.
The Olympics is a marvelous show, notwithstanding the abundant controversy. Hats off to the athletes especially. But did you choose your career path due to burning passion? Or was it more a shift in priorities and interests, as you grew older?
Ask an 18-year old boy where his passion lies and …no let's not. Please don't go there.