For some inexplicable reason, I get Frankie Goes To Hollywood giving my inner ear a tick when I hear the word ‘ambition’. “Whaaaat is it good for…..?” Well…….
A cursory glance at a dictionary (or indeed, Dr Google) finds definitions such as “A strong desire to do or achieve something” and “Desire and determination to achieve success.”
And dotted around this piece you’ll see a selection of quotes from friends and allies. I used that there social media to ask “what does ambition mean to you, in one sentence?”
So, where am I with the word?
As is so often the case with my navel gazing, soul searching inner dialogue, it seems to go back to… duh duh duuuuuh… my childhood. It’s almost nauseating how corny that sounds, but that genuinely is where my thoughts arrive from.
A traditional upbringing I was offered. Stable home, stable schooling, stable this, stable that. Which is ironic considering my first memory of ‘running away’ was when my sister bailed out of the family home. She was protesting the fact that putting an actual horse on your letter to Santa was overly, er, ambitious.
We were encouraged to lock in ‘stability’ as an ambition. Do well at school (but university isn’t for ‘people like us’) then get a good steady, stable job. Maybe get a few steady promotions over the next 50 years. Meet a suitable, stable partner for life, a good stable wife/husband. Have 3 or 4 suitable and stable cars and/or children.
Sadly (or not, actually), I was more interested in hearing what John Peel had to offer me when I was a teenager, sampling local cider and mastering rolling a fag whilst cycling were the limits of my ambition.
There was always going to be a clash of cultures……..
But honestly, as an adult, what have my ambitions been?
I never thought I’d find true love for a start, so that was never an ambition. But what do you know, ta daaaaaa, here I am!
Without realising it, I think my main ambition was to never have a proper career. TICK.
But I have *always* wanted to be a writer, a musician, an artist, a poet. I suppose I formed my ambitions based on anything which has a genuine impact on me. Words and music, words and music.
As it turned out, we can add love to the list.
Does this make my ambition “words, music and love”?
Sort of, but that’s not really the story here. Take love out of the equation – even though I wake up every single day and pinch myself that I get to share another day with the most wonderful human being I’ve ever met. No, love was never an ‘ambition’, it was more like winning the lottery with a ticket I hadn’t realised I’d bought.
Music and words. Are they ‘ambitions’ though? Not really. I achieved things I never thought I would; played in a band, played my own songs in a band, heard other people sing my songs, I’ve written for magazines (and even started one back in the day), I’ve written for various fanzines (football and music), I had a piece published by Metal Hammer magazine once.
And in more recent times there’s been so much happening with my writing that I’m extremely proud of. But what makes me really proud. I can’t measure this success, there’s no end game. I can’t see there being any “right, now I’ve achieved that, there’s nothing else to work towards” moments. Because I don’t set any goals. So maybe I don’t have ambition at all. As one popular running podcast puts it, I simply enjoy the process.
Ah yes, running. But what about running? Surely I’ve got running ambitions?
Well yes, for a while back there I was setting myself goals (ambitions?) to run a certain distance in a certain time or finish in a particular position in a race or beat this or that person. And when I achieved any of this, was I satisfied? Of course not, there’s always a different time to beat, a new distance to run, a new person to chase.
There is a scene in the film Chariots Of Fire where Harold Abrahams has won his gold medal and sits, almost forlorn, in the locker room. When the team quiz each other, they conclude that “he’s won” was the best explanation. His whole ambition had been to win that medal. Having achieved it, the journey was over, finished. What would he do the next day?
Ambition is different for everyone. People are more ambitious or less ambitious. They might be ambitious in some areas of life but not in others. We’re all different and that’s what makes life so interesting.
I decided to have some checklists for myself this year, so I guess that qualifies as ambitions? Simply a set of ways I’d like to live my life, something to hold myself to account with. Have a gander.
In the mean time, here’s to fair winds as we chase our dreams……..