This was an off-hand remark over at Bridget’s Pilloud’s blog.
Bridget talked about the fantasies she had had as a child about what she wanted to be. Her example was perhaps more grounded than mine, but here’s the main thrust: What qualities did the main characters of your childhood fantasies have?
Going back, I remember a rich, adventurous fantasy life as Indiana Jones, Lara Croft (not really, but if there had been a female role model to copy I would have,) or Tom Swift, boy genius.
When I think about the qualities I admired in those characters the first thing to come to mind is daring and adventure. They didn’t stay at home where it was boring and safe. They were capable, and they thought well under pressure. They were creative problem solvers.
And the key thing, (for me) was that they had a lot of information tucked in their heads that was, on the surface, pretty useless. But in the end, it was that very knowledge that saved the day. ( I think of that every time someone accuses me of learning for learning’s sake, as if that were some dastardly thing!)
Bridget says that she began to manifest the qualities of her daydream heroine, and I was astonished to find that I had, too!
If there’s any sort of challenge in the offing, my response is, “Why not?” I’ve tried my hand at any number of interesting jobs, learned from oodles of interesting people, and I’ve never even left the country!
I specialize, not in obscure bits of knowledge, but in taking knowledge, techniques and principles from one field or scope and creatively applying them to problems in another. As a generalist, I’ve skimmed most topics and I know where to get more information if I need it. Because scholarly work takes so much time away from general derring-do.
When I look back on my life, (she says, as she strokes her long white beard) I see that I have more or less embodied the spirit of my daydreams. And I realize, now that I’m an old married lady, my adventures needn’t die — for some things they’ve just gone inward. Self mastery is the ultimate adventure. And for the rest of it? I just need to pay more attention!