755: Dreams or Memories

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.

Episode home:


What about your story?