Life is a Grocery Store

I’ve been having some life dilemmas recently

Regarding my education, career path, vocation, existentialism…

and I talked to a professor at Villanova today who is the head of the Honors department and he gave me this great analogy:

A lot of people think of life as a sprint. But life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

And then after you realize life is a marathon, you then realize again that life is actually a grocery store.

A lot of people can see the finish line in a marathon. They know where to go. They know that it will take a long time. But the path is predestined. I want this job. I’ll get married at 28. I’ll have kids by 30. Be a millionaire by 35 and retire early at 50. I’ll travel the world, go volunteer, do work for the government, or a bank, or a non-profit.

Life isn’t a sprint. And it’s not a marathon.

Actually, life is more like a grocery store.

There are many aisles. And you are perusing, checking out items, meticulously (and sometimes non-meticulously) putting items into your cart. And sometimes you’ll get random items in your basket and you’ll have no idea how it got there. Maybe a kid put it in. Maybe YOUR kid put it in. Maybe it just fell in from a shelf. All the different items at the grocery store are unique and sometimes your cart will be full of items that you weren’t planning on getting.

Even more so, you might end up at the checkout and decide you didn’t want that pasta or cereal anymore.

Sometimes you’ll be 20 years into your career and realize you want to be a Buddhist monk instead of a banker.

I think the most important thing this professor told me though, was that I should call myself a seeker.

Life isn’t black and white. There is no right or wrong. No simple Yes or No answer to the dilemmas of vocation and purpose that I’ve been having.

Because yes, some of us will be Buddhist monks, and some of us will work for a big bank, and maybe I’ll be the one in the middle ground and be a Buddhist Banker.

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