How Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson can teach us all to be a little bit more generous
The Rock is generous. Let's all be more generous.
In a video he posted on Instagram this week, The Rock My Friend Mr Johnson gave one of his long-time stunt doubles (he has at least two) a free pick-up truck:
I’ve no reason to doubt it was a totally selfless gesture, and it got me thinking about generosity.
I was an only child. Now, I suppose, I am an only man. And, 11 years after my last day as a child, I’m self-aware enough to realise that in childhood I was probably spoilt, to a certain extent. With no siblings to spend money on, my parents were able to give me plenty of presents. And I gave other people presents, of course, but until a certain age I didn’t necessarily have enough financial autonomy to spend much money on them.
A little while ago – pretty much exactly the time at which I became an adult, in fact – I began to derive more satisfaction from giving presents than receiving them. I was in a new relationship and, essentially, cared more about making my girlfriend happy than I cared about anything else in the world. The presents she gave me meant – and still mean – a great deal, but my time was suddenly spent thinking about and buying presents for someone else, rather than ogling things in shops and greedily adding them to my crowded Christmas list.
The Rock’s video led me down a certain thought path. Though I’m still more excited to see how my wife reacts to presents than to see what she’s got me, I wonder if, more generally, I am generous enough in my everyday life. Are any of us?
Needless to say, I’m going to be hard-pushed to buy many if any of my friends a brand-new pick-up truck every week. I am, as I have pointed out many times, not The Rock. But I wish the first thought that rushed to my head was more often of other people. Too often I find myself thinking far more about my feelings than others’. Other people devoting their time to help you, or saying something kind and meaningful about you, is so affecting that it makes little sense not to want to evoke the same feelings in other people as often as you can. I don’t think I do this often enough, and I wish I did. I see other people do it far more frequently than I, and admire them for what looks like an instinctive level of selflessness I would be thrilled to possess.
I wish I followed my mum’s example more closely. She is forever seeing things she thinks would make perfect presents for specific people. She then keeps them under the bed until they are ready to be wrapped up. I am projecting somewhat, and arguably it should be worrying that I am about to compare my mother to The Rock, but it feels like The Rock might be a little like this. Although he’s clearly devoted to the brand of ‘The Rock’, which involves talking about himself to a captive audience, every single day, his life is one conspicuously littered with gestures of kindness and generosity.
The word ‘conspicuously’ is important because, of course, he broadcasts these gestures to people he ultimately wants to keep loyal to his brand. But ‘conspicuously’ is also important because the people seeking The Rock’s help are often looking for exactly that: a conspicuous, tangible, public acknowledgment of their cause or grievance. If it weren’t conspicuous, the gesture might lack impact: fewer signatures, less awareness. In the case of the pick-up truck being presented to his stunt double, I would argue that any cynicism in uploading the video to Instagram is far outweighed by the value of the gesture to the person in question.
So, in this vein among others, I sincerely hope to be more like The Rock. I don’t think that all elements of his life are worth emulating or inherently admirable simply because he is at the centre of them. I do, however, think – at the risk of sounding saccharine – that all our lives would be greatly improved if we strove to be as generous as possible. So let’s fucking do it.
Stay hungry, stay humble.
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Illustration: Dan Evans