The question "What would you like to be when you grow up?" disheartens me. After all, who among us knew at the tender and chaotic age of eighteen, what we wanted to do with the rest of our life? Who among us, even if we did know, could answer the question of how to accomplish it? The question is thrust upon us too early, or perhaps too late.
As children we are given the proper education: one that is considered to be well-rounded; one that will turn out millions of cookie cutter children. The children who would rather be reading, and who cannot fathom a life without learning something new, are forced to cut out construction paper turkeys every Thanksgiving. If they feel the inclination to pursue grander things, they are gently reminded that scissors are sharp and how they must cut on the dotted line and focus on what colors they would like for their turkey's plumage. These children, budding intellectuals and scholars, are not shaped in the fashion that fosters their passion. Children who fall in love with Egyptian history are not guided towards a life as an archaeologist or museum curator. Instead, they are told it is too far fetched. Especially, as an American, I am struck by the amount of adults who have told me how they always wanted to visit Italy to study archaeology, or how they always wanted to be a painter. These adults were the children who were pushed towards a degree in business; their passion fractured, but hopefully, not destroyed.
Luckily, a number of us rediscover our passion. Whether we are fed up with the day-to-day office environment or we start feeling the effects of our age, we start to wonder if we will be in a rut for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, Netflix was the agent of my rekindled passion. Always passionate about Ancient Greece and Rome, but never having the opportunity to study it in high school or in college, I have been known to spend far too much time in museums pouring over their collection of headless and armless marble gods and goddesses. I have been known to be crushed over the closure, albeit temporary, of the Etruscan exhibit at the Vatican Museums. I will admit to pouting and forcing myself to be content with looking through the door. When an opoprtunity came, while my husband was away on business, to watch a documentary on Minoan civilization, I leapt at the opportunity. Thoroughly amused by the number of people I spoke with who either had no interest in Minoan civilization, much less knew where "Minoa" was, I curled up happily ready to learn.
I expected to be enthralled with the subject matter. What I did not expect was to be enthralled with the presenter, Bettany Hughes. Many documentaries take time to teach, but few take you along on the journey. I was there, with her, on Crete, birthplace of legends such as the minotaur and the labyrinth. I felt her passion to not only understand the past, but also to impart what she has learned to others. People have commented against her style of documentary saying it focuses too much on her and her clothing (for which I can only shake my head and hope that we continue towards true women's rights). I, on the other hand, enjoy her style because her enthusiasm is contagious, and I feel like she is a tour guide, ready to take me to places I can only dream about.
I owe her thanks for reminding me of who I want to be, and what I want to be doing with my life. With this passion, and regret of never being able to study the Classics where I went to school, I am revived. The flame has been lit, and wanderlust has returned, not only to put my foot down on ancient soil, but also to wander through the libraries and museums, searching for answers, and just maybe, a start of a journey of my own.