Becoming Titans

Commentators described Matthew McConaughey’s 2014 Best Actor Oscars speech as “confounding,” “bizarre,” and “very Matthew McConaughey.” I take umbrage at the first two accusations.

“Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say ‘who’s your hero?’ … I said … ‘You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.’ So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, ‘So, are you a hero?’ And I was like, ‘not even close. No, no, no.’ She said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because my hero’s me at 35.’ So you see every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero … I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me … to keep on chasing.”

Our future selves are Titanesque heroes. It’s like they’re not even us.

We see ourselves as having infinite opportunities. 10 years? That’s all the time in the world to become a hero! And thinking we have all the time in the world is a fantastic motivator to wax philosophical about becoming colossal, and it’s an optimistic way of looking at life, but it’s not true. Life is finite, and we can only do so much in the time we are given. We don’t actually sit down and consider the discrete steps we must take every year, month, and day to become this fabled hero. So we dream, because dreaming is more indulgent than doing. And that means, in 10 years’ time, we still won’t be Titans.

Or we can try. We can take small steps.

It helps me to think about my past self, since I’ve already walked the path that led from him to me. It’s clearer than my future path, even if obscured by false memories and riddled with gaps. Would 14-year-old Tom look up to me? In some ways, yes. I’m a writer in NYC. 14-year-old Tom would think that was pretty cool. But realism also tempers my assessment. He would be disappointed by some things. Present Tom hasn’t published a book. Present Tom is still not good at sports. Present Tom is not a leader among men. I was only able to accomplish so much in ten years.

You will never be that perfect hero. No one ever has been. Accept that, but continue to strive for stellar results. The thrill of the chase is great, but actually adopting even just a fraction of the aspects of the hero you’ve always dreamed of is even greater.

My journey to becoming a hero starts with small steps. One day, I want to publish a novel. That means that, today, I must write. One day I want to own an apartment in NYC. That means that, today, I must work hard. One day I want to be a hero. That means that, today, I must better myself.

23 thoughts on “Becoming Titans

  1. So very true. I’ve heard it said, “You are becoming what you are today.” You summed it up so well in those few ending statements. I might just add one thing, “…and on some rare occasions, as you are doing the every day thing to better yourself, you stumble upon the moment when true heroism comes knocking at your door. It is up to you to answer the call…” 😉

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  2. I love that your hero is ten years ahead Tom, you will catch him eventually. experience and achievements will pile up if you work hard. But you have to age to gather them. You will always be someones hero even if you think you can’t be your own. The best kind of heroes are the ones that are humble and can teach us something. Really enjoyed thinking about who my heroes are. As I age they have changed and I look back over time it has to be my Mum. My biggest hero of all.

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  3. Think my younger self might have been OK with the way I’ve turned out, but being young isn’t always the fun it’s made out to be! Thoughtful and provoking, will follow. Glad you’re following mine.

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  4. If I had said to myself ten years ago that in 2014 I would be happy living on a boat, I would have laughed.
    If I had said ten years ago that I would be living on a boat, I would have been laughing so hard, they would’ve locked me up
    Twenty seven years ago I turned happy, so I didn’t have to tell myself to be so ten years ago.

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  5. “One day I want to be a hero. That means that, today, I must better myself.” These final words alone are motivation enough to become that hero we all want to be! I think there needs to be a poster with those exact words on it. Thanks for sharing such wonderful words of motivation Tom!

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