"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.