There is something about this word that makes me squirm slightly, but that is probably because I always instantly picture one of these pretentious glossy magazines extolling a life (surely) everyone has consisting of luxury yachts, private planes, exotic cars parked outside stately homes and an abundance of accessories underlining the “finer” things in life – expensive women/diamonds etc…, yes? …. Well I could not resist but google “Lifestyle” and one way this had been defined was perhaps less tainted than my own point of view and the following words rather bring me back to a point I made in one of the very first articles I wrote for our magazine.
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A lifestyle typically reflects an individual’s attitudes, values or world view. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity. Not all aspects of a lifestyle are voluntary. Surrounding social and technical systems can constrain the lifestyle choices available to the individual and the symbols she/he is able to project to others and the self.
Put another way, is lifestyle simply not about how we choose to live our own lives using the resources and social fabric we are all surrounded by. We are all unique so we all have our own perceptions of the world and the style upon which one person chooses to live their life can be very different from another. One thing for sure is if you are someone with the mind-set of an F1 driver, or world rally driver, or maybe a superbike racer, your “life” has evolved to be one where “the edge” is always too wide and there is an inherent quest to just get that much closer to that edge. Red Bull, of course, encourage and embrace this extremism with all their extracurricular activities outside of F1, but the insurance of profile sportsmen and women – especially those who are in the world of speed – is as much as anything not judged on what they do in the car (or on their bike) – but outside – because that is where thrill-seeking without a safe environment around you makes a huge difference to the way an insurer might view the “risk”.
Michael Schumacher was simply enjoying his lifestyle and something happened which for reasons beyond even the extreme dexterous talents of Michael got him into trouble.
I am of course also writing this on the back of Michael Schumacher’s accident. We all feel cheated somehow that such a world ace had to have come to grief while simply with his family enjoying a bit of skiing. Of course, we would all expect Michael – who was a far more accomplished skier than many people, to maybe have been going fast, maybe even showing off – but I feel some words of defence need to be thrown in the direction of young Lewis when he is quoted as saying “all things happen for a reason” – and then, according to the rags having to “face bitter criticism” for these words. Why?
Michael Schumacher was simply enjoying his lifestyle and something happened which for reasons beyond even the extreme dexterous talents of Michael got him into trouble. In the small village where I grew up, there was a young man whose parents had a stout military background. Jamie Fagan was posted in Northern Ireland for a two-year stint at the height of all the troubles and bloodshed. He survived but six weeks later was killed on a country lane in a motor accident. Why? No one knows and all that can be said is “it happened for a reason – whatever that reason maybe”. Michael’s accident contrasts very differently to the likes of World Rally Champion Colin McRae. Clearly, he may have been missing his thrill-seeking at the time of the helicopter accident but I am sure the McRae family would dearly love to have had the incident passed off as “for a reason” and “not contrary to the principles of good airmanship”….
The link between these two accidents comes back to “Lifestyle”. Whatever the justifications, both men were world greats in their chosen fields of motorsport. Neither of them could have achieved what they did without going to the limits and beyond. They both lived to tell the tale of course, but I have no doubt it must have been difficult for both men to adjust from one particular lifestyle to another. In a slightly less sanitised version of success and lifestyle, the Wolf of Wall Street (for those who have not seen it) was hilariously shocking, but Leonardo DiCaprio at one point in the film has been “clean” for some considerable period without any of the highs of excess and success, declared how utterly bored he was with his life. I am not suggesting anything, except to say if I had been a Michael or a Colin, I could perfectly understand if deep in their “sense of self”, life without the excess I was used to must be so very hard to adjust too?
I am not sure the same logic follows, but in my own way, I am a bit down at the moment realising that sadly I don’t think I will be doing any racing myself this year. So as a substitute I have decided to do the next best thing – white-collar boxing. Don’t ask me why, but I need a reason to keep going to the gym, I need a “fix” of some sort and I want to explore new terrain and not just accept the situation as it is. There is a big City Insurance Boxing tournament coming up in June – all for charity I hasten to add, but I question why I should want to do this and it does come down to my “means of forging a sense of self” I guess. It is an expression of freedom in some respects and a “this is what I can do” desire that fuels this.
I hope nothing nasty will happen and I will probably “split” the two charities I choose to box for but I have joking said a third – possibly overriding charity, should it be deemed more appropriate by a third party – namely something like The Brain Trauma Foundation… might suddenly find themselves as beneficiaries or is someone likely to criticise this? It’s a lifestyle, my lifestyle and everything that happens does so for a reason.