Who (Not What) We Want To Be

At some point, we must decide who, not necessarily what, we want to be.

It is quite common to ask children what they want to be when they grow up, but perhaps this is the wrong way to think about life.

While our occupations obviously have a powerful affect on the direction that our lives take, they are not and should not be our life’s primary defining characteristic.

Of course, none of us wants to end up in a career that we hate. Our occupations, after all, occupy a great number of our waking hours and time wasted is time lost.

Likewise, we need to be able to pay our bills, provide for ourselves and our families, and have enough left over so that we can pursue our avocations, hobbies, and passion projects.

But, if we do not know who we are and who we want to be, intellectually, morally, emotionally, and spiritually, we will have no gauge by which to determine if we are on the right course or not.

All too often, people find themselves mid-life questioning their path, their choices, and the ways in which they have spent their years up to that point and, perhaps, if instead of focusing on career, we focused more on character, this would not be the case.

Skills, knowledge, passion, and ambition are all important, but none of these make up for poor character, pliable morality, or unreliability.

The world does not really need more doctors, firefighters, or ballerinas per se.

What the world needs is more good people who do good work, regardless of what field they happen to seek out or fall into.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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