Friday, 22 May 2009

What do you want to be?


"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

As I near a birthday in a few weeks, the thoughts of an old familiar question remind me of bygone times.

I remember that question being drummed into us kids from the age of three. We soon began to ask it of ourselves. "What do you want to be?", "What defines you?". Why? What? When?

Before the philosophical ramifications of such questions revealed themselves, the answer was simple. At the age of three I wanted to be a ballerina by day and a ninja at night. The power of flight, optional.

And why not? Is that not what innocence of the world teaches us? Be who or what you want to be?

I don't know if a simpler answer to the question "What do you want to be?" might not to have been, "Taller". After all, the truth we learn and the wisdom we gain is that we do not control the future. We have only a vested interest in it and must work hard for our place in that landscape. I don't mean materially or professionally, but more soul-deep and intelligently.

If all else fails and you are alone on a bare rock overlooking the ocean, who you are inside will carry you forward. Not the job, the attention or the paraphernalia.

Ballerina and ninja. The two choices define qualities I still admire. Grace and mystery. Softness and strength. Light and shade. Perhaps Filmmaker/Writer is a grownup amalgamation of both. As I now have no use for leotards (uncomfortable) and dressing like a ninja in London is likely to draw just a little too much attention. Although I'd like to see a ninja, just once, sipping tea outside a cafe.

I would suggest a revised approach to the above question. Let it not be about the job. Let it be a measure of the qualities that will shape the human being in this fleeting world. I hope one day to hear such answers as "Stronger, happier, patient". Perhaps even "I don't know". The honesty in that answer alone is beautiful. It gives one time to think, reflect and ultimately grow up.

24 comments:

pve design said...

I am fortunate to be living my dream, but one thing I have always admired are those that always have some sort of genuine praise or accolade - given freely to grace those around them. I admire those who clap and admire with reckless abandon.
pve

Debra said...

Always striving to do more, do better with what we have been given. Day to day, if we are fortunate to be doing what we love-gives back two-fold. Lovely post.

Kim said...

Great post and I love the idea of a ballerina/ninja :) I've always strived to be accepting - of everything and everyone. It's not easy, believe me.

Kim x

Deidra said...

This is a beautiful post. I truly enjoyed reading it, and the thoughts it made me think. I want to be patient. Thanks for the lovely words.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

You are a literate new voice in the blog world. Heavenly post! xx

Silke said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!! :) It's amazing how often I used to think about this question - especially since I am still, at the age of 42, an explorer of all things new and haven't settled on just one thing to be... I hope that never changes. Great post!! :) Silke

Jennifer said...

This is wonderful! If it's about characteristics, I suppose I am more what I wanted to be than I realized. Thanks for this and I look forward to more :)

Purple Flowers said...

As a student in the universe, I am more aware of similarities between nations and cultures = people. This has enabled me to be a person with an acute sense of awareness. Although I am always eager to learn more.

The Socialite said...

Great conclusion! You write so nicely! I love the ballerina/ninja combo! haha.

Lightning Heart said...

oh my goodness, i had two of those ballet shoe soap things in your picture!
i completely had forgotten all about them - they must have been tossed away at some point in my teenage years after realising my dreams of being a prima ballerina would never happen hahah

really lovely post :)

setyourselfonfire said...

I've just had the realisation about living my dreams. I've always chosen more practical things for the reason of being financially stable. But i've realised I can't do that any more because i don't put my all into the practical things because it's never something i'm passionate about. I've just made the choice to quit my job and follow my heart. I'm excited.

TheDecoDetective said...

I choose "I don't know"! - and I'm nearly forty...
Thanks for an insightful post - and for your comment on my blog =)
Have a lovely Sunday!
Trudi

Meg said...

It says in my first grade year book that when I grow up I wanted to be a an author and a substitute teacher and in my spare time I would go on adventures.

Now I'm 20, graduated from university and have no clue what I want to do. It's like the older I got, the less I knew where I was going.

And a ballerina/ninja would be awesome!

Betsy Head, Affordable Interior Design said...

Very thought-provoking...

Betsy

lavelle said...

thankyou for the tip my dear. The furniture will be very minimal (one reason being we cnnot afford to buy very much) but i have a feeling i might go OTT with the finishing touches!! your blog is very lovely indeed and has been added to my links list

xx

becca. said...

lovely post :) lovely ballet shoes.
thankyou for the comment :) xx

the tea drinking english rose said...

oh the scary thoughts of growing up, especially as the end of university dawns near so very very close.
we must try to stay young inside and then the world will be our pretty pearly oyster!

thank you for your sweet comment, the teacups and plats are all from different places. some of them have matching sets.
and the furnitre we had to find ourselves, so at least i get to keep what i've found!

ps... i wish for a name as beautiful as yours!
xxx

Penny Lane said...

wao, i loved it... it made me think a lot. i really like the way you write.
thanks for the comment :]

Estelle said...

I love this post. I would love it if kids (and adults) were free to say "I don't know." I was always so jealous of those who knew exactly what they wanted to do and be. I never knew...and still don't.

Honor Woodard said...

Lovely post and photo dissolve.

A question I was never able to answer... And then recently someone asked me "what do you want your legacy to be?" I found that to be even more perplexing.

Out of the grace comes mystery, and out of mystery, grace...

Thanks for placing the attention on the question...

Le Meems said...

"If all else fails and you are alone on a bare rock overlooking the ocean, who you are inside will carry you forward. Not the job, the attention or the paraphernalia."

I was just standing on a rock, floating scraps of paper into the ocean and letting go of things that bug me about life. I let go of the bad stuff and held onto the gratitude and love I have for other stuff.

And who I am will carry me forward.

I love this post.

Chessa! said...

aahhh...I like your new question and your answer. I think I'm still figuring out...I thought I knew, and then that changed. Or, maybe it didn't change...maybe I just never really knew and I'm just figuring it out. I think the point is that we keep asking ourselves...even when the answer seems to be abundantly clear.

Heavenly Housewife said...

I remember once asking someone this question, and their answer was "happy". It took me back a little, but the truth is, that was the best answer I ever heard, and now its my answer too.

The Sophisticated Aesthete said...

I have always been able to answer that question in every sense it could have been meant.
But I think it's rather sad that my boyfriend has to make up answers to avoid the unaccepting, rephrased repetition of the question after a honest 'I don't know'. People seem to think that saying that is a sign of weakness.