A Waste of Time?


Why did the landscaper need a degree? So he could see the horizon.

I was six months out of high school, and all I knew about my future was that I wasn’t going to college. I didn’t need a university degree to get a good job.

My boss, Arnie, was all the proof I needed. He owned his own landscaping business and was successful. Self-made men like Arnie and me didn’t need higher education.

One afternoon I asked Arnie how he got started in business.

He thought back and smiled. “Well, I graduated from university with a degree in liberal arts. Then I …”

“You went to college!” I stopped him. “And took liberal arts? I bet that was a waste of time.”

Arnie sat back and thought for a minute. “I suppose philosophy and literature don’t have much to do with landscaping, but education’s got a lot to do with life.”

Arnie picked three wooden stakes off a pile. “Let’s put it this way,” he said, placing the posts in a triangle on the ground in front of him. “If the triangle is the world, before I went to university I was here,” he put his finger at the top point. “All I could see were limitations above.”

“School taught me to turn the triangle upside down,” he said. Arnie moved himself around so that his finger was now at the bottom point of the triangle. “When you look at the world from this perspective you have a limitless view,” he added.

It actually made sense. School wasn’t about getting into a high-paying career; it was about expanding my horizons. There was a reason I needed to study history and literature, science and math. Those courses would provide a chance to learn things I couldn’t even imagine.

And suddenly a lot about the gospel made sense too. The Church wasn’t there to limit me, to set boundaries. Like an education, the gospel would increase my chances for gaining knowledge and growth. Heavenly Father had given me a wonderful opportunity, with the scriptures and prayer, to expand my view of the world and my future.

[photo] Photography by Steve Bunderson