Last week’s Parenthood episode (“Too Big to Fail”) was spot on in highlighting the tension between choosing passion or responsibility, bliss or the ability to pay for life, within the context of work. This tension is an important thread in my forthcoming book, Finding Livelihood. Drew, a sophomore at Berkeley and the oldest boy in the youngest generation of the Braverman family clan, is feeling pressure to pick a college major. More specifically, he is feeling pressure to pick a major that will lead to a future job that will enable him to pay off his student loans, support himself, and help his family, particularly his sister.
Drew decides that “economics” would be the best choice. His girlfriend objects, saying that’s not who he is, that he’s a poet not an economist. He goes to his uncles for advice. The two uncles are having their own crisis. The company they started and from which they support their families is going under.
Adam, the uncle who is a businessman and has lots of options should the company fail, tells Drew to pick a major by following his dreams and to not worry about making money. Crosby, the uncle who is artsy, lacking in options and a financial safety net should the company fail, and already on the verge of losing his house, tells Drew to learn how to make money and to make as much as he can, because money can indeed buy happiness.
But, counters the business-man uncle, money doesn’t buy happiness, only peace of mind. “The last time I checked, peace of mind is the definition of happiness,” concludes the artsy nearly-broke uncle. The scene ends with a close-up shot of a very confused Drew. Well played, Parenthood.
[Photo: Screen grab from Parenthood episode.]