Careers was my favorite board game as a kid. As players we wrote down our secret success formula before beginning play, a combination of fame, money, and happiness that had to total 60 points. I always weighted my formula toward happiness, which meant I usually “went to sea” rather than going to Hollywood (fame) or becoming a Uranium Prospector (money).
Happiness was paramount for me when I played the game and when I pictured my future––however vaguely an elementary school girl can picture adult life. Money and fame were necessary for the game, and for life, I supposed, but they didn’t interest me much.
That’s still true today. I’m most interested in happiness, although I have money and a certain amount of name recognition (Careers fame) in the United Methodist Church. My husband has been an excellent monetary provider. But making money, as in getting rich, has never been his motivation or mine. We’ve been thankful for having enough and more than enough money at times, so that we have been able to help family and friends in significant financial ways. Financial success has been the byproduct of my husband’s dedication, passion, commitment, intellect directed into the world. Money and recognition (more Careers fame) are the only ways the corporation can reward employees. Money and fame don’t bestow happiness, no matter what value my Careers game bestowed. Happiness is up to the individual.
It might be easier to make decisions about our future if I could pull an “Opportunity Knocks” or “Experience” card from the Careers deck and know how a job for Kevin at a cloud computing company in Palo Alto stacked up against a job for Kevin at a cloud computing company in San Francisco, or an internet service in Oakland. How would the happiness, money, fame quotient be distributed if we stayed in our current home and town and he commuted an hour each way to work? Would it be different if we moved to the Peninsula to the fog and a house with an ocean view? What if we lived near a BART (commuter train) station in the East Bay and had a view of the bridge but also one straight into our neighbor’s house?
I’ve been looking at houses for sale near BART stations, thanks to a website called bayareaforsale.com. Then I’ve looked up the corresponding cities at City-Data.com, where I can find out all sorts of statistics about population, age, occupations, crime, businesses, churches, colleges. Of particular interest to me are: population size, crime rate, housing density and high temperatures. The lower the number in each category, the more appealing the location is to me. The lower the numbers, the happier I will be. Factor in a water view, and my happiness points increase.
Some part of me is aware that my rankings are nothing more than a grown-up version of Careers, a game that prepares one poorly for real life. I run search engines while Kevin embarks on his job search, looking for his own winning combination of money, fame, and happiness––recognizing all the while that the happiness component of the equation is entirely up to us.