Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Five life lessons learned; the importance of relearning

When asked about his talent, his awards, his performances, he stopped looked the interviewer in the eye and simply said: “I just wanna work, man!”

Society sets a series of de facto rules. Who get’s to make their way draws currency from its bank. It’s a loan with varying interest. Other side, it’s an application which more often will be denied. So you build your own imaginary reserve. And slowly, inexorably work to a plan that seems ad hoc, but there’s meaning, because like the actor: “You just wanna work”.

We listen to stories because they give us something to anchor. Sometimes these stories are stars lighting up a hidden destiny.

I once had a meeting with the foreign affairs editor of the BBC in the BBC canteen. After perusing my CV for a moment, he asked somewhat confused: “So, what is it you do?”

You see my CV reflected a myriad of interests, which could either suggests the convention of a lack of focus, or an interest in many things. I grew up working in my active imagination. I was a foreign correpondent, a firefighter, an at one time a milkman, then I wanted to become an artist, but my father wanted a doctor. I got so far as Chemistry and maths.

These aspirations; I didn’t quite make firefighter and milkman, I lasted two days before my parents told the milkman a child of nine going out on milk runs, was well, not right. But if I have learned one thing, you’ll either conform to what people want, or you’ll forever chase lights with moments of fulfilment.

I do these, not because of anything than I just wanna work. So since my encounter with the BBC head, I chase them lights, often hoping and have taken people with me.
  1. Give yourself different experiences. I once dived with British and Turkish navy divers into a world war one wreck off the coast of Turkey. Thirty metres down, I was trapped by a thermocline and ran out of air. I don’t advocate that, but in the process somebody from the BBC was interested to hear my thoughts.
  1. Collaborate, share your gifts. It won’t always be accepted, but that’s not the point: I imagined with a friend what it would be to shine a light on the incredible array of people who are talented. We created the leaders’ list, sixty of the UK’s leading BAME producers.
  1. Humility is the key to people giving you their success. My friendship with a senior tv figure would result in an invitation to a dinner, and whilst eating, a tower of a man appeared. We stood. I said hello, shook his hand, and like many was and still am mesmerised by him. It was President Nelson Mandela.
  1. Search for them stories: I’ve loved stories from the time my mum would rerun Doris Day’s Calamity Jane. That love has fuelled me towards coding, a different form of journalism storytelling, and photojournalism which my peers have recognised through international awards. But, I just wanted to work.
  1. Live life with the certainties that uncertainties is but a rock in your path. I recall my foster parents, my boarding school, my parents and mum who recently passed. She was a figure of hope. We shape our world by the way we let society frame those conventions. Each journey can finish like you want it to, when your imaginary reserves materialises as they will. It all starts with that simple commitment; I just wanna work.