I wonder how many people will look at my title and wonder what the heck comes next? I don’t blame you but it was hard to find a title. You see the impetus for this piece comes from a post entitled Find your Gorilla: career lessons from Sir David Attenborough by Richard George, and the find your Gorillais a bit of a surprising insight into following your dreams. I liked the fact one man’s willingness to carve out a very unusual path in life is not quite as difficult as one might have imagined and it revolved around a gorilla. What about the puppy? No, sorry you have to read on.
How many of us have watched the wonderful stories over the years and thought to ourselves that Sir David is in the perfect job? Here we have a man that has been indulging his passion for nature since 1954 and calling it work with our endorsement. For Sir David his passion and his profession married early in life and never considered going separate ways. I have watched him over the years and have wondered if his enthusiasm has waned but I haven’t as of yet seen evidence that it has dissipated even a little. Richard’s post served to reinforce the fact that with the right mindset anyone can find the dream role. Sir David was in a time and place and the rest is history, or is it more he chose to take a risk to make the most of that particular time and place and the rest is history?
It is risky, no doubt about it but when you see what can be done how can we resist? Yet resist we often do. It seems there are lessons in life but we miss the moment because we are too busy to see it as more than a coincidence of events. What if instead we call it an opportunity, a moment of choice when you leap for the gold ring or you stay where you are? What would you do? I had that moment presented to me by someone who described life as that series of coincidences. I was young. I was afraid of repercussions and so I let the chance go by. What was even worse however was that for all his preaching so did he. Together we may have had the long-running career that Sir David Attenborough had, after all a rose by any other name is still a rose (career, love, causes) but we will never know. Sadly, unanswered questions remain as internal battles, battles we could well do without. They draw us backwards rather than propelling us forward because even the strongest of us can’t help falling victim to the what if syndrome.
Having a healthy respect for the dangers of risk-taking whether they are emotional or physical is certainly important to our well-being. Those moments of risk ignored can also stop you having the best of experiences. I bet we have all had the time and place moments and dismissed them as a coincidence instead of trusting them to take us somewhere. Passionate feelings frighten us unless we can give them a name like a hobby, or a past time. We are afraid to make more of them, to think we may spend a lifetime turning it into something more. It takes dedication and we are not all Sir David, courageous enough to be playing with gorilla families, and loving it enough to decide it could be a way to earn a living, to build a dream into a life time of reality.
When I was four years old I had a very nasty experience with a very large canine. I spent a good deal of my life afraid of dogs unless I knew them well until the death of my parent’s dog and their consequent emotional distress had me searching for a replacement. Having found the place to provide this I set a time to pick up the sweetheart that would be known as Leo despite my reservations. Arriving at the house and finding no-one there I walked around to the back where a waist-high fence allowed me to see a very engaging family of eight, Mum and Dad were beautiful but the puppies were exquisite. I was so excited and they were so cute that I forgot to be afraid. I could only think about the joy of holding them, caressing those soft brown-bellied bundles of absolute delight. I forgot that I was technically breaking and entering. So you might think the moral of the story is I forgot my fear of both dogs and the law in a moment of emotional madness; it’s not that at all.
The couple that owned the dogs got there about five minutes after I impulsively entered their property to play with their dogs. They were surprisingly understanding about finding me in their backyard because it turns out the mother of the puppies had developed quite a protective streak and had become over-protective. I believe vicious to be the exact word bandied around. This couple could not believe I had survived entering and actually sitting down and handling the squirming bodies when even they had to approach carefully. That day I learned it wasn’t that hard to push my fears away to enjoy a precious moment, and if I did then it made me into a different person, the kind that didn’t get bitten; the kind that got to play with puppies.
What if I had waited dutifully behind that gate? I never would have known that inside me lay the power to not get bitten. Okay I can’t make a career of that but can I use that information? If we consider it as a lesson by the man that often chased nature in its most unhospitable state we realise there is power in risk-taking. Ignoring, dismissing those moments as the odd coincidence and continuing to do what we have always done can mean never knowing in Richard’s words that the “greatest and most wonderful things we do often happen as a result of putting ourselves at risk and grasping the things that scare us.”
So yes we can learn a lot about life and its possibilities by watching Sir David Attenborough. What if he had been too afraid to find his gorilla and “take a tumble in the jungle.” On the other hand it appears, according to Richard George, that Sir David has also been well-known for wearing the same thing for his programs believing it to be less distracting if we as an audience were not “focussing on what he’s wearing between different locations, which means he can better communicate with us. We learn more.” This lesson I am not so sure about. In the Voice, a reality show designed to offer opportunities to those who would choose singing as their vocation I have noted that over a period of three nights the judges wear the same outfits. It doesn’t help them better communicate anything really other than they wear the same thing for great periods of time. This is a distraction of unvoiced questions. Well, they are on TV so who should I ask? The lesson here is that not everything is a lesson and sometimes I give in to the trivial.
Until next time,