Back in my university days, one had to be cool. That meant, by and large, that one had to embrace the ultimate in any given experience. This came as part of the rebellious mood of the times, when kids were shaking off tired old story lines that our parents had tried so hard to instill in us. Being “cool” meant that we were impervious to those hoary old influences. I am reminded of the park scene in the movie “Hair”
But it was a huge mistake. Not all of it. Just the idea that experience trumps memory. That somehow we could step outside of our histories and become something altogether new just by growing long hair, scoring some pot, burning our draft cards and bathing less frequently.
You might disagree. But if you do, check out what Dan Kahnelman has to say about the remembering self. The remembering self rules the experiencing self. It is that simple. End of story. So the moments of freedom found in our university days became memories themselves. And after the dust settled … and by that I mean after we graduated … we all headed back into the real world and re-discovered our longer term histories. It came as a bit of a shock, but the remembering self felt at home again taking the longer view of things once more.
So what to take away? There is a “life hack” lesson to be learned here. And that lesson is that life is about creating memories. That is why we need to “create space” for ourselves and the folks we care about. That may be inner space, and it may be a commitment to the space around us.
Here is the thing. As Chip and Dan Heath bring out in their book Decisive, our human nature gets in the way. Our tendency is to go the other way. To narrow our space. To accept what is here in the moment. Ooops!