“Hippie” isn’t a word I would readily associate with myself. To me, it conjures images of recklessness and opposition. I believe I embody neither of these. I appreciate convention. I follow rules. I make plans and adhere to them. I constantly consider the future.
And yet…while I appreciate convention, I find myself, as of late, deviating from it in greater and greater degrees. In the past year, my life has come into clearer focus. I have a much better idea of what I am working toward and how I wish to live my life. But this grand picture looks very different from that of my friends and family. At times, it feels as though the color palette with which I’m working is skewed, which makes me wonder…
Am I a modern hippie?
Certainly, it’s unconventional that my husband and I do not want to have children. Everyone reminds us of this, and I see why. Children are part of the logical progression of life. Yet, we have chosen not to follow this progression. Despite everyone’s disbelief, I am glad for this decision and feel it is the right one for us. As an added benefit, it gives me the opportunity to invest more time and effort into my students.
Then there’s the fact that I like my occupation so much that I don’t want to move up to the administrative level.
It’s not a matter of being lazy; it’s a matter of being happy. I like being in the classroom and interacting with students. I like the autonomy of creating an inviting environment and enjoying students’ successes within it. I don’t want to spend my days meting out discipline or arguing with the school board.
Yet, the negative connotation associated with being content has been ingrained in my head, and it makes me question if there’s something reckless about not wanting to move up the occupational ladder. It makes me sound indolent, when in reality I see great value in what I do, and I enjoy that.
So last night after dinner, as I sat listening to the rain patter on the windows, I considered the curious path my life has taken and then reveled in its uniqueness.
When I was in college, I imagined a future filled with suits and offices and cramped apartments in big cities. I assumed that I would join the stereotypical grind associated with the publishing industry. But I was destined to follow a different road, one that led me toward an occupation I formerly had vehemently opposed: teaching.
Now, I look back and give thanks for each uneven cobblestone in the winding path of my life.
I also look forward and see that same crooked trail extending out in front of me. There’s no sign of immense wealth or corporate dominion or staggering fame, but there’s the promise of tranquil, rainy evenings on the couch with my husband, jubilant dinners with friends, and a quiet sense of accomplishment in the classroom.
These things are deceptively simple, but I’ve come to value them more than the standards of success put forth by American media.
A person’s life cannot be measured by his/her wealth, occupation, or number of degrees.
At least, I don’t believe so.
But then again…I’m just a modern hippie promoting peace, love, and happiness in a world where these seem to be in short supply.