Student Voice


May 21, 2024



Stability of childhood shapes life’s journey

March 26, 2009

Currently you are investing in yourself by being in school, and hopefully you see yourself as a worthwhile investment. The question is, on what day do you cash in your investment and reap the rewards of your hard work? Maybe in death, but life is like a great casino without exits, meaning the payoff is only that you get to keep playing the games. In a lifetime, it seems there are no destinations, just a long strange trip towards the great unknown.

There are items and people that you can accumulate, but they aren’t yours. There are places you can live, but they don’t really belong to us as they still remain when we are long gone. I hope I am not dating myself, but it seems like a great way to look at life is to compare it to the old video game of Oregon Trail. What you invest in, what you take with you, what you choose to leave behind, will make the journey easier or harder, enjoyable or miserable. 

Our childhood is the body type we have for the journey. Hopefully your childhood was good and so you are in a very good shape to handle the ups and downs. If your childhood was far less than perfect, your body may not be in the greatest shape to handle life’s many ups and downs, but a difficult childhood could also lend itself towards helping your body to become super resilient and super strong.

If you’ve lived through hell growing up, I hope that you seek support that will lend you a hand in turning your bad experience and negative energy into resiliency and constructive focus (The Oprah Winfrey or Abraham Lincoln story). I think it works out this way; people who never really had it bad growing up seem to value security above success and power. People who have been through hell growing up channel their negative experience into achieving more or continue to sputter and spiral in self-defeating mindsets like blame, hopelessness and helplessness.

Our education and career is the quality of shoe that we wear on the trail. Is the shoe a good fit and of high quality? Most people who hike often will tell you that if you don’t find a good shoe you spend a lot of your hiking time worrying about your feet, distracted and unable to take in the moment. So invest some good time and effort in fitting your shoes because you understand that the investment will pay off repeatedly on the trail.

Our significant relationship is the backpack we wear. Some backpacks are too heavy, cause us to list and lose our balance. Some backpacks are too light and don’t really offer us enough to sustain us during difficult times. A good backpack balances us. We pick it carefully and we get out of it as much as we put in. Anything less than this balance isn’t worth carrying along. One should consider that good backpacks don’t sidetrack us from our personal path; they are a part of it.

Spirituality is the water we drink, without it we quickly stagnate or expire. Spirituality is how we choose to approach the big questions in life. Who am I? Why am I here? It’s really the reason we are moving from one end of the trail to the other. We look for the answers to the big questions in all things we approach and it drives us to seek greater understanding. People say that the more we seek the less we know and the more in awe, the more satisfied, we are about the great mystery of our existence.

Passion is the food we eat. Passion fills the belly of life. It’s focusing, defining and yet still manages to remain wonderfully frivolous to remain fun. It’s what we daydream about when we fall asleep, what we do to recoil from more serious matters, it’s what connects us to others like ourselves. 

So with all this said, here is the question to ponder: do we really need to know exactly where we are going to find meaning and reward in life’s journey, or is the journey the thing?

Mark Huttemier is a student mental health counselor at UW-River Falls.