Wikipedia informs me that ‘coming of age’ is a “young person’s transition from being a child to an adult.”
Unfortunately Wiki couldn’t answer me this: when does that happen?
Luke Burrows is a co-mastermind behind the sustainable, zero-waste, vegan burger food truck Wise Boys Burgers. And ironically, this boy actually is pretty wise. However, after a few minutes of talking with Burrows, you would probably realise his carefree self is in no rush to grow up or ‘come of age’.
In early 2015, Burrows was employed at a top law firm after graduating from the University of Auckland, and was beginning to swiftly scale the corporate ladder. But, as a counterpoint to the deadlines and high intensity of law, Burrows and his brother, Tim, tapped into their creative sides and founded Wise Boys as “a bit of a fun side project… We had no business plans or anything.” They hadn’t checked for gaps in the market, and they weren’t seeking out additional income; they simply had a desire to see a shift in some of the detrimental habits of New Zealanders that negatively affect our Earth.
Fast forward through an unexpectedly popular summer, where Wise Boys smashed through every outdoor festival NZ had to offer, and in February Burrows daringly decided to leave the law firm and become a full-time ‘food trucker’. This decision didn’t come easily to somebody who had thrived in the fast-paced, phone-buzzing, suit-wearing world of law; but the challenge of chasing a future where Burrows saw the potential of making a real difference won him over.
And after tasting their burgers, I can say that Wise Boys is a streak of sunshine in what is a stormy industry saturated in fat and food wastage.
So, at 26, Luke Burrows finds himself self-employed, and sort-of-broke, but never happier!
“Obviously the pay isn’t of the same amount or steadiness as in law, but I’ve found that I just don’t care about money as much anymore. It’s not what we build it up to be.”
I guess you could say that the more vulnerable and risky a situation Burrows finds himself in, the more free and detached he feels from things of less importance. He grins when he speaks of how he has never felt more in tune with himself, as cheesy as he knows that sounds. He feels as if he finally has time to listen to his body, and strengthen his ability to pay attention to those that surround him.
It’s a story you have heard or imagined before, perhaps. A story of risk-takers and dream-chasers, but you may have never allowed yourself to be the protagonist in the fantasy. Yet it’s a story I hope we hear more often in our generation. Burrows is unsure of what the business will look like in a year’s time, but he finds comfort knowing he is currently the author in each hour of his day.
I wonder if we ever really ‘come of age’ or ‘become adults’. Do we ever truly reach a point in life where we are unable to identify room for growth, and can declare we have reached our zenith? Perhaps we should simply look at life as a continual process of challenging and reinventing ourselves so that we can consistently kick ass and find ways to make the world a more beautiful and sustainable place.
Burrows thinks Prince Charles puts it pretty sweetly:
"Faced with such a damaging and accumulating side-effect from the throw-away society, it is, I believe, utterly crucial that we do much more to speed up the transition to a more 'circular' economy - that is to say, one in which materials are recovered, recycled and reused instead of created, used and then thrown away. On our crowded planet this has to be a critical part of establishing a more harmonious relationship between mankind and the natural environment which sustains us all.”