Normally, I don't like to get too deep, but today's topic is: life. This is a pretty universal topic, because chances are most of you reading this are alive, or at least university trustees, so it probably applies to you. And let's not beat around it; life is hard! Just think of all the problems we encounter in a single day: war, recession, prejudice, inadequate Netflix selection, the gumball not coming all the way out of the machine EVEN THOUGH WE PUT IN A QUARTER JUST LIKE IT SAID.
Yes, in these troubled times of ours (3:40 and 3:41 P.M., Daylight Savings) it's all too easy too get caught up in the "small picture" and ignore the "big picture." The reason for this is all too simple: your television has "picture-in-picture," and you have set the small picture to porn while the big picture is on C-SPAN. Your best bet would be to switch them.
So, how exactly do we learn to "stop and smell the roses?" Ideally by following the words of the great writer Henry "James" Joyce, who said, "Stop and smell the roses." Of course, moments after Henry stopped to sniff the nearest rose, sixteen killer bees crawled up his nose and pretty much exploded his whole head, but we appreciate the sentiment just the same.
Of course, maybe you don't want to be like Henry, who after all had to go around for the rest of his authorial life with an exploded head, which led to some pretty comical dust-jacket photos. But you also don't want to be like the other extreme, as represented by the Manhattan mother who recently sued her 4-year-old daughter's pre-school for $19,000, claiming the school damaged the daughter's chances of one day getting into the Ivy League.
Now this is what we would call an example of "small-picture thinking." Can you imagine claiming that a child's college admission chances could get damaged at age 4? The very idea! No, parents, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but in fact your child's college chances are "made or broken" while he or she is still an unfertilized egg. Everything rests on the ovary environment. Is it nutritive* or not? What are those other eggs doing in there? Are they reading The Economist and listening to Bach? Or ... are they reading the National Enquirer and listening to Aaron Copland?** Your child will come out accordingly, parents. And no amount of elite pre-schooling can make a damned bit of difference, except as measured in ear infections.***
Besides, no offense, but here's the thing: what were you like when you were four? Because, with all due respect to your little super-spawn,**** four-year-old children have approximately the same academic capacity as Q-Tips, only much shorter attention spans. Naturally, though, this improves with age, as goes without ... LOOK! A PENNY!
Ha ha, only kidding. (It was a quarter.) Now of course I don't claim to know what you were like when you were four; maybe you already had big Harvard dreams. I myself had but three Life Aspirations:
1. Go to McDonald's.
2. Acquire Happy Meal toy (the girl one, not the boy one). (Then, before exiting restaurant, promptly lose Happy Meal Toy somewhere in the vicinity of a black hole, leading to extremely loud grief and rage, leading perhaps to acquisition of a replacement Happy Meal toy.)
3. Try to ride the dog.
So naturally my life experience leads me to be a bit skeptical of pre-schoolers' abilities to be on the Ivy League track in the first place, although, admittedly, I could be wrong. Also the Indian Ocean could be made of "Berry Blue Typhoon"-flavor Hawaiian Punch and the next Nobel laureate could be a Labrador retriever named "Boomer."*****
Which is all to say, take time each day to remember - in the words of somebody who was probably not Henry "James" Joyce, because by this time his head had already exploded - "don't sweat the small stuff; there is no big stuff." This means, if you absolutely HAVE to sweat, take care only to sweat a little bit and not a lot, because otherwise you will stink and nobody will want to date you.
Also, I personally got into an Ivy League college after having been home-schooled for 12 years, which I mention in order to (a) buoy you hopeful parents out there and (b) say nyah nyah.
But what do you care anyway? You're not listening to me. You're still watching that picture-in-picture.
* Get it? Eggs. Nutritive. HAH!
** Stop that crying. Now.
*** But at least they will be elite ear infections.
**** Unless he or she has a name like "Brantleigh" in which case I take back the respect thing and replace it with snickering. Brantleigh! Hee!
***** I'm going to come back to eat my words on that one, aren't I. I've doomed myself.