I am turning 23 later this month. 23. Wow. As the pseudo-proverbial phrase always goes, it’s a weird age. I think every birthday – that isn’t a milestone of some numerological importance, such as a multiple of 10, or of gregarious importance such as turning 18 or 21 – is a weird age to be. Life is weird. We all deal with it in our own weird little ways. Weird, huh?
So, other than being existential and philosophical about the upcoming birthday, I have for a while been discussing – maybe not aloud to myself in public or anything, but discussing is still the correct verb – who I want to be. I am still fortuitous in that I believe I can somewhat mould my destiny (well, a tad), with some time still left to decide if I want to follow down the path that my studies have led, go into a pseudo-field of that study, or pursue something quite unrelated. I personally have always wanted to be an Airline pilot, and think that I would gain no greater pleasure than travelling daily in the machines that I have so aptly and passionately enjoyed working on and using day to day since that first flight as a youngen. I’d also love to be an engineer, and duly follow the career that my degree has pre-empted me thus far.
But in a completely unrelated field, yet following the lines one or two of the other early challenges on this blog, I would love to open up a small Pintxos laneway bar, serving beautiful, inexpensive, high quality food in simple mouthfuls and plantxas to those who wanted to enjoy the food they bought, down easy drinking beverages, and immerse the night in conversation, laughs, and that understated appreciation for the little things in life. In some ways, to emulate every night of my 6 months in San Sebastian, and pass on my own enjoyment of this lifestyle and cuisine to those open to trying it.
But I look back at this paragraph, and start to question things.
All of these relate to what I want to do. I have always asked that question; I guess it’s inherent from a young age that we ask it of ourselves, or others compel us to respond for the sheer cuteness of the aspiration and open-ended hope. E.g:
The old “so what do you want to be when you grow up“ scenario, when any quadragenarian (or so) sidled up to you as a young child, and felt compelled to ask existential and somewhat blind questions to you, at the time with no grasp of what it meant to actually decide on a long-term career choice, and you instead, on impulse of course, replied with the thing that most made you smile. For me that was planes and food. How times change.
What intrigues me about this question instead however, is that in being asked all those years, and in now taking my turn on the wheel of life and inquiring it myself to a generation of equally unsuspecting and unassuming 4 year old’s, that maybe our focus is all wrong. Yes it would be amazing to have the insight at that age to know exactly what you want and to follow it out through life and attain what in essence would be the perfect career, but is it just that we all heard the question wrong? Or indeed, was it paraphrased wrongly?
Because the question I’ve started to ask myself instead, is “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Emphasis on the be.
Maybe I should edit it to give more meaning.
What Who do I want to be BE when I grow up?”
There, that is the inner turmoil I have been trying to sort out. Jobs can come and go, and no career maketh the proverbial man. And to some extent, wanting to do something professionally doesn’t always either a) pay the bills, or b) happen just because you want it to. Passion is one thing, but having the capacity to do something is another.
That’s where this new question is different, it simply reflects on what aspects and assets of your personality you wish to have and see as dominating your countenance. What passions do you choose to give in too, what interests do you keep to yourself, or share an enjoyment of with others. This, in essence, seems a more appropriate definition of what maketh a man. And yes, we all change over time. Parts of this personality ebb and flow, wane and grow, and it is therefore our morals and personal regard for ourselves and others that shines through.
So as a little present to myself, happy 23rd mate, I’ve got one more life-challenge to add to the list.
Life Challenge #3 – To find myself a Role Model, and thus find out who exactly I want to be.
Sounds easy enough, right? Just find a role model, I’m sure there’s one around here somewhere… It seems these days that finding a suitable role model is more easily said than done. There seems to be more of a focus to image these days, than there is towards morals. People idolise others that are in the spotlight, for the sheer desire to have the things they do, look the way they do. But not everyone can say their role model is who they say they are simply because they come across as the type of person they wish they were, morally and in personality. I mean, we are made to feel like we know the celebrities of this generation, when in fact, we know only their public image, and have no clue about who they actually are; nor in some ways do we care. Marketing & publicity FTW.
Ok, so maybe I need to classify their importance and ask a few questions first, just so that when they interview for the position I’ll know what I’m looking for. Here’s the 5 things I think I need to ask of myself and the way they would fit into the aforementioned available role:
- Do I need a Role model for each facet of life?
- If/when I change, will I also have to change Role Models, or find a universal one?
- Which is the more important feature that they posses: Personal image, style, and identity vs morals and personality?
- Is their past struggle and weakness and it’s overcoming a necessary feature, or is purity in past history and deeds a better guide?
- Is emulation the key, or is it more to transcribe an approximate path with which to cast your own shadow?
Each of these just begs to ask more questions. And I can tell that I am going to just get knee deep and bogged down in the matter if I don’t sort myself out.
Luckily, I have someone in mind. Ewan McGregor.
Why, might you ask?
Recently I have been spending some time perusing my way through this Tumblr page: Oh, Pioneer!.
Oh, Pioneer! on Tumblr
It has a fantastic mix of old-world elements, raw machinery, landscapes, surfing, food, culture, gentlemanly pursuits, and to be honest it is starting to hit a bit of a tone with me. Everything on this website exudes the person that I want to be, the things I not only presently enjoy, but other things I know I want to get into in the near future. And more acutely (this will soon be discussed in a following post) a passion of vintage motorbikes, adventure, and roadtrips.
Well, having read and watched a few of his past documentaries, I was instantly drawn to Ewan. For those that don’t know, along with his best mate Charley Boorman, Ewan completed 2 long distance endurance rides. First in 2004, he completed Long Way Round, where they travelled together from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberian Russia, and Canada.
Long Way Round, 2004.
Then in 2007, the Long Way Round team reunited in 2007 for another motorcycle trip from John o’ Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. The journey, entitled Long Way Down, lasted from 12 May until 5 August.
Long Way Down, 2007.
I find these journeys incredibly moving, and his work with charity organisations along the way to be the perfect display of his personality, demeanour and character.
To me he comes across as the modern day gentleman. His public image is clean, and yet in this modern era of proving self-worth, his masculinity is seemingly never in question. He’s short, much like myself, and the roles he plays in his various repertoire of films have all been of an increasingly complex level – which I think lends itself to saying that he not only exudes confidence and personal character, but a quick sense of wit and intelligence. He dresses like a gentleman, acts like one, and is a openly displays and follows his passions and beliefs.
He is also ardent in his support of charity work, including being an Ambassador with both UNICEF and GO Campaign. During his RTW trips he undertook many publicity ventures for the organisations, trying to raise awareness of Orphan’s and Children’s Welfare around the world. Last year, he even undertook work with UNICEF in a BBC production entitled Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission, where he travelled by motorbike, boat, plane and foot to deliver vaccines to children in remote parts of India, Nepal and the Republic of Congo.
This sounds like something Connor & myself have been craving to do.
He has also faced downturns, publicly admitting in 2007 that he had been through stages of alcoholism, and at that point in time, had not touched a drink in 7 years. I think that this adds character to his personality, and displays impressive evidence of self-control and determination. Should I face similar problems, I would only wish to face up to them in the same way he has. In other accomplishments, he has a beautiful family including his gorgeous French wife of 17 years, Eve Mavrakis, and two daughters.
If you ask me, in a modern world of personalities in which values and morals can be somewhat lacking, I think he comes across as a man of remarkable integrity and value. I only hope that I too could be seen in that same light at some point in my life. As for who/what I want to be, I’ll slowly sort that one out – I think you’ll slowly see it develop through this webpage, and I’ll be sure to reflect on this post a few times before the end of the year.
I hope this has given you some fuel for thought, and I would love to hear of your own personal Role Model(s), and why they came about as being your personal choice.Feel free to comment away below!
Best of luck with your own paths and choices,