Merigian Studios


Power To The People

Power To The People.

I often have interesting conversations that come from the most unusual opportunities. This past week, while at dinner with four Michigan State University professors who were members of the faculty of the Residential College of Arts and Humanities, I had one of those experiences.

The conversation took place at a restaurant named Felicia Suzanne's which is located on 80 Monroe. The decor was modern, the table service was excellent and the food was nice. I had Grouper and Brussels Sprouts for dinner. Modified Paleo is what I strive for in any out-of-home meal experience. Their menu had several items that could be enjoyed on my food list.

During the dinner conversation, a History Professor asked me a question: How does one make a history class interesting to college students who have no interest in history? The Professor who asked the question was dedicated to the study of history of Lesotho, a small country located in Africa. Lesotho's exact location is almost in the center to South Africa, which is actually a donut shaped country. Who knew there was a donut-hole country within South Africa called Lesotho? Did you? I didn't.

I replied, "Make it relevant and personal. They will engage." My wife Angie frequently talks about Ms. Fannie May Bullock from Nutbush, Tennessee who is also known to most of us as the singer and dancer Tina Turner. My wife has the habit of personalizing stories to help hook her audience, me. She is extremely good at weaving a tapestry of people's lives from the strands of thread created by their experiences. Sometimes the personalized stories are rich and vibrant, other times they are sad and depressing. Regardless, they will keep your attention.

The history Professor was unsatisfied with the answer I gave him. Not the kind of unsatisfied that happens when someone they're speaking with insults them, more like the unsatisfied that happens when someone gives you an answer to your question and you have no clue how to execute their solution.

Later that evening, he asked a much better, more significant question: How do I get my students to continue to follow their passions and dreams when their parents tell them they're foolish or naive pursuing a field or endeavor that will lead to no money or no hope of future employment? I smiled and stated loud and clear, "Power to the people! Stick it to the man!" The puzzlement on his face was priceless.

There were four other Michigan State Professors who stopped their conversations when I blurted out those words. All eyes on me. I smiled and said: Tell them to stay authentic to who they are and what they stand for; Tell them never to be embarrassed about what they aspire to be; Tell them to be the best they can be at what they are passionate about; and the most important thing is tell them to put in ten thousand hours of hard work to be recognized for who and what they do, regardless of what it is. Tell them to stay on the Left Hand Path, they may not be a part of the dignified population or acquire the status or prestige of those who have committed to the man, but in the end they will lead an interesting life. One that is much more exciting than the boring reality of reliving Groundhog Day each time they awaken from their previous night's sleep.

He followed up my comments by saying: They feel beholding to their parents because their parents are putting them through college. What do I say then?

I said, "They have two options: The first is to buy their freedom by paying their parents back each and every dime they paid for their college tuition, room and board. They will be free of their guilt associated with their parents paying them tuition, room and board."

"The second option is for them to realize that their parents have made their choices to do what they did based on their understanding of their worlds and constructions which were most likely, indoctrinations from their parents. These students have an obligation to society to break the cycle of just doing something for the sake of money. Create a different paradigm for future generations. They're the future. Not their parents."

He sat back in his chair. He thought for a while and then smiled as if he had eaten the most delicious chocolate Easter egg in his life. He asked: Do you really believe that? I replied, "Yes. I live it."

I don't know if the Professor lives that way, nor did I care. I put myself through College and Medical School with no financial help from my father or mother. My father attached conditions on the money he gave me and/or my siblings. I wanted no part of his money, or the conditions to which it was attached. He taught me who not to be by being who he was.

I have spent well over twenty thousand hours honing my skills as a physician and I am closing in on six thousand hours as an artist, writer, poet and welder. As I look at the skill sets I have developed as an artist, I realize that there is validity in the ten thousand hour rule. Ten Thousand hours performing forty-hour weeks of pure dedication to a skill or career takes two hundred fifty weeks or five years of absolute dedication. To be the best wood carver you can be, you have to carve wood five years solid at forty hours a week. That is almost an impossibility since life and all of the other aspects of carving wood separates the carver from their project. Just the act of procuring wood creates a dilemma, and for example, to be the best Walnut wood carver, one cannot carve other harder or softer woods to get the hours in for walnut.

What's the point of all of this? When anyone takes the Left Hand Path, strikes out to live their passion, they still have to dedicate themselves to whatever they want to do for a minimum of ten thousand hours or more before they have arrived at being a master. The easy way is to graduate from college or graduate school and join corporate America or the US Government in some capacity. That is not to say that you cannot live your dream in those agencies of vocational and political hierarchy, but you cannot escape doing your passion for ten thousand hours to be the best at what you do, whatever it is.

When I asked the history Professor if he thought all of his students would dedicate ten thousand hours solely to their passion, he smiled and replied, "No. Maybe one or two."I replied, "I guess you answered your own question. The majority of them will do what their parents want them to do. The cycle continues."

Power to the People. Stick it to the Man!


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:28 AM
Share |