Calum McSwiggan

Another Man’s Shoes

In Eat, Love on December 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Skater High Tops

‘And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done’

– Len

The Barcelona sunshine blazed down on us as we walked through the cobbled streets, admiring the work of the artists, listening to the rising music of the buskers, and taking in all the inspiration the city had to offer. So you’re sure I can stay with you? I asked, picking up a small hand-carved figurine and looking at the group of four Canadian artists- a pair of illustrators, a sculptor, and a painter. Of course, they said with devilish smirks, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain.  

They’d moved to Barcelona to be inspired by the city of artists, and in need of a life model, they offered up their couch in exchange for my services. It seemed like a fair trade, using our bodies to do business is the oldest profession in the book, and I had no qualms in taking off my clothes in exchange for a hot meal and a place to sleep.

But despite my lack of timidity, I never did end up posing for them. I got so caught up in marvelling at the lives of these four girls that our pact all but slipped my mind. They had wanted something and so they quite simply went out and just did it, they knew what their dreams were, and they weren’t about to let anyone get in their way, and in just spending a short time in their presence, they enriched me with something valuable- stimulation, motivation, and encouragement.  

I took the lessons they’d taught me to Ibiza, and spent a week fully immersed in the rave culture of the island, chasing a life-long dream. It may not seem like much of an achievement, but it had always been something I wanted to do, and taking the plunge and just doing it was by far the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. And when I woke up one morning wearing another man’s shoes, with absolutely no recollection to why, I knew that I’d done it. It was so pertinent that I was wearing somebody else’s shoes because I didn’t feel like myself anymore, I wasn’t the person to fly to Ibiza by myself for a week long rave, and yet there I was, covered in splatters of neon paint and wearing a stranger’s shoes to prove it. 

I’d managed to surpass the constraints of the person I believed I was, and transcended into something I could have only ever dreamed of becoming, and that’s how I want to spend every single day in 2013. In the past year I’ve made a few hundred friends, visited eighty different cities, published over forty blog posts, worked in five different countries, and got over one nasty break up– I have absolutely no regrets and yet still I know that there is so much more I could have accomplished if I stopped holding myself back. I was stumbling through life with a wink and a smile as my only currency, and while that provided me with an amazing adventure, I know that if I really want to conquer my dreams, that I have to start building my own opportunities instead of waiting for them to come.

I’m done messing around, I’m tired of waiting for all the things I want, it’s time to start making things happen, and so I’ve devised a list of ten ambitious yet achievable goals for 2013. I already knew that I wanted to donate blood and pose nude for a life drawing class, and all I had to do to think up the remaining eight goals was ask myself what it was I really wanted, and within minutes I’d drawn up the beginnings of something big.

Run the New York Marathon
Learn Buddhist Meditation
Drink Snake’s Blood in Thailand
Move to America
Publish a Manuscript
Donate Blood
Ride an Elephant in India
Pose Nude for a Life Drawing Class
Meet One of My Idols
Meet a Gay Man Who Gives Me Butterflies

Each item pertains to one aspect of my life that I want to improve- charity, love, culture, home, career, and inspiration. I’ve tried not to dwell on responsible goals, and put equal focus on the irresponsible- there’s no reason that the importance of my career should weigh more heavily than my pursuit of love or my desire to drink snake’s blood, all of these goals are equally as important to me, and will all receive equal attention.

It’s time to stop fantasizing and dreaming about reaching these goals, and it’s time to start doing. I know that all I need to do is take small realistic baby steps, and in a year’s time all of these baby steps will have amounted to so much more. Putting my dreams out there in a tangible list, where the whole world can see them, is my way of making a promise to myself, my way of saying game on, my way of telling the world that I’m ready.

This time next year, when I look back at the year’s events, I want to experience that feeling I had on that hungover morning in Ibiza. Except this time when I look down, I won’t see another man’s shoes, I will see the shoes of the person that I’ve strived to become, and will know that even if I don’t manage to tick off every item, I will be proud in knowing that I spent every single day doing everything in my power to make my dreams come true.

  1. You’ve met me….that’s one thing you can check off! AND I’ve done the mediation….I fell asleep and got whacked by an Orange Japanese man with a stick. Maybe he knew my friend and I had been peeking though the holes in the wall perving at the other mediators and monks…..YOU’LL LOVE IT!!!! xoxoo

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