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A Few Joyce Words: Bored Games

Bored Games
Life. Risk. Clue? Many of us played these games as children, some of us as adults. We continue to play them long after the boards and pieces have been tucked away and forgotten, the application of early life lessons in family, goal setting and strategy, deductive reasoning.

“That’s an interesting idea. I’ve been trying to put something like that together myself. We should talk.”

“We’re talking…”.

So went a recent conversation I had with a new acquaintance at a party I recently attended. The seeds of entrepreneurship fall all around us.

Midway through my senior year of college I am now experiencing a perception shift reminiscent of a John Woo or Martin Scorsese camera shot. Recall the “Goodfellas” scene where Henry and Karen enter the Copa through the kitchen; at its time, it is the longest single-camera shot in cinematic history.

I have, as my father likes to caution those in need of mentoring, spent too much time driving the car while looking in the rearview mirror. People like metaphors. People like my father.

Hindsight is 20/20, but the scene becomes monotonous. As I near graduation and will finally see something I began through to fruition, all eyes are on the horizon. It’s not land or the rising sun I seek to find. It’s opportunity I thirst for.

I, like many in this difficult economic landscape, have become parched from the barren wells of missed opportunities and dried up riverbeds of past emotions. I want something fresh, organic. And, like the food in the “natural” sections sprouting up in grocery stores and market places across America, I know its going to cost more than the bargain brand offerings of corporate giants and their mom and pop store fronts that are neither farms nor fresh.

My new friend is a 28 year-old business owner and entrepreneur who hails from Puerto Rico and has found a home for hisself and his start-up on the world-wide market that is the internet. He is not alone, far from it.

More and more young people are skipping college and going straight to the digital boardroom. I have been hearing lately a growing number of pundits and purveyors of “wisdom” inspiring young adults to forego debt-consuming student loans for an education in life experience. They, mostly conservative talk radio and television hosts, espouse that college professors are hippie liberals who give free grades and teach the impressionable lazy job evaders how to apply for welfare.

Extreme as their stance is, I agree that college, and the seemingly insurmountable debt, is not for everyone. Some are able, and imaginative enough, to start their own companies from scratch and build small empires in relatively short time frames. For each that succeeds, however, thousands flounder.

I have enjoyed the benefit of military service and the college experience, the former having made the latter possible, and for me, affordable. I would not have been able or willing or empowered enough to start my own business straight out of high school or even the Air Force. I needed the maturity and education and mentoring that universities provide; things my new friend and potential business partner did not require.

My shift of focus came later than it would to most, I am aware. Still, there are thousands, maybe millions, of students out there who, at their own pace, are flowering into business moguls and innovators and inventors. We should have means for those who can’t or won’t go to college to find their own path to success. We do. The military, trade schools, entry-level jobs with companies that educate and promote from within provide these kinds of things.

What I have learned is that I will need to work to support myself at a job I may like but not love, until I have poured enough of my own time, sweat and tears (not too much blood if I can prevent it) into my passion until it becomes profitable. That is the American spirit and rugged individualism in practice. And I’m fairly liberal.

So, to all my hippie-professors who somehow find the time to turn off the Lennon, put the pot down and their clothes on, and who come to work every day and teach a little bit more than just the curriculum year after year to class after class, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not on welfare. I’m sorry I’m not afraid to shoot for the dream even though I know most businesses fail in their first year. I apologize that I listened as you talked and learned more than just your last name and grading scale. I took from you all the experiences you carry in your leather attaché case filled with our still ungraded papers and the Grateful Dead sticker on the side. I stole your “wisdom”. I made-off with your hard earned insights and your peace-providing tolerances and those hate-healing methods of encouraging diversity and unity. God forbid, I abscond with a lifetime of racism-free thought and sexism free practices and genderism-free securities and sensibilities.

Oh, and don’t let me and my new friend put our individual and collective entrepreneurial moxie into the heads of our ilk. The 99 percent might start to lose numbers; the one percent could gain neighbors. Perhaps we will inspire enough young people to turn off the talk radio and news abusers and tune in to a PBS or NPR program, or worse yet, to enroll in HWU! What’s that, you ask? Hippie Welfare University, an institution of hired-learning.

Happy Holidays friends, and be safe. We’ll see you again in 2012!

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