In his book, The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Taleb writes:
“Decline starts with the replacement of dreams with memories and ends with the replacement of memories with other memories.”
Three days ago, I came across a photo taken in 1992. It’s me, with my girlfriend at the time, snuggled together on the edge of Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote. It’s a few weeks before I’m due to sail across the Atlantic, which will ultimately doom the relationship – but there’s a wonderful sense of love, joy and optimism in that photo.
The memory triggered an obvious question – would that 21 year-old recognise the person he’s become – thirty years later?
Another passage from Taleb’s short book – which I bought and read yesterday – gave me pause:
“… talk to no ordinary man over forty. A man without a heroic bent starts dying at the age of thirty.”
We laugh about men who have a mid-life crisis – who buy a Porsche or leave their wives to find validation (and eventually desolation) elsewhere, but I had my own crisis of sorts. I wasn’t interested in cars or other women (I struck gold first time) … but I did feel that I was dying a little inside. The truth of Taleb’s exaggeration, felt perfectly real to me.
Part of what I did – then for myself, now for others – was about reconnecting with the heroic aspect of life.
That’s what happens when we tell our story.
As we tell it to others, we are telling it to ourself.