I was the ‘Clever’ one and he…
Well, the world said he was the ‘Stupid’ one.
Heartbreakingly, he believed it.
But I never did. You see, to me he’s always been heroically fearless. Bringing fun by pulling things together in a way only he can;
“You’re welcome to give me any homework you like, I’m not going to do it.”
Meanwhile, I held back through fear…
“Why would I risk my education by speaking my mind about school?”
He’d tried post-16 education, but quit. Not for him. At the same time I went to a top university to continue my studies.
A few years later I’d graduated with a 1st Class honours Master of Science degree, Head of School Prize and a whole bunch of other sporting / social accolades from that institution. I was also mentally broken.
“So what. Now what? Give me any syllabus and deadline, I’ll pass your test. Tell me exactly how you want to judge my success and give me 5 years, I’ll show you what’s possible. But, please don’t ask me who I am. That’s the one thing I do not know.”
My CV was red-hot. But, what for? The industry that was technically my very best career choice, the one that was enticing me with handsomely paid internnships and higher degree sponsorhip, never had my heart. “Where does this leave me?”
I did what all graduates do. Moved home, found a local job and began figuring out life, work and what’s real from scratch. My brother had a job in a supermarket by then. They’d made him team leader.
Each lunchtime I’d escape the open-plan office for quiet-time in the town library. Sometimes I’d accidentally discover an exciting book and excitedly share the ideas. Slowly, he began thinking maybe(?) life could be more than the uninspiring future so clearly laid out. But, he felt hindered by lack of school qualifications. More than that; he believed he didn’t deserve anything other than the life and job he had.
But hope sticks.
One day I found him looking up college A-level courses;
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Um, I thought if I could get A-Levels I could go to uni and do Aeronautical Engineering, or something like that.”
“Totally do-able, but” I said, sensing there is more to this,
“what do you really want?”
“…I want to design an aeroplane, and maybe build it one day.”
“Listen to me: you don’t need any qualifications to make that happen. Start doing what you can, with what you have. Apprentice Yourself to the Field of Aviation.”
I’d made this up.
It was my caution against formal education.
He believed it.
The next thing I know; he’s fixing an engine in the garage, taking welding courses to get the pieces together, emailing professors to ask their input on his design calculations and getting replies(!), active on forums with people who make and fly aircraft, in the library picking up books, telling me all about aircraft history and the latest models…
He’s inspiring! I didn’t know this was possible.
That’s the boy I knew as a child.
…then he learnt to fly and yes, he’s been poor doing this. Supermarket money doesn’t stretch far but, man, is he alive with this challenge. He took it further; commercial pilot training, independent candidate. Acing every exam first time. Dealing with the many, many setbacks along the way.
His field is aviation, of course it is. It’s obvious now and it was obvious when he was a child making Lego aeroplanes and fascinated by Thunderbirds.
If Beyond the Box Education is a thing, he led the way… like always.
Though he (jokingly) sill calls me a hippy for turning this into my work :D
What’s funny how people act now like it’s all finished; “He’s done it!” they say, “No,” I say… “his Big Dream was to deign and fly his own aeroplane. This is only another Real Step towards that, like all the steps he’s taken since our conversation that day.“
What’s YOUR Big Dream? And what’s your next Real Step towards it?