Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Art of the Good Life #21 : The Memory Bank

This chapter gets you to consider the value of an experience as compared to the value of a memory.

Suppose you have a fantastic experience, like a conversation with God or your deity, but then after the experience you would forget about the experience completely - How much would you pay for that memory ? Now suppose you can remember the event for one day, one week or your entire lifetime. Would you value this experience with a higher premium ?

The author hypothesizes that most folks would not ascribe any value to an experience that cannot be remembered, and that more value will be attached to memories that can be recalled. According to the author, this is irrational as we are wired to only remember the peak experience and how most experiences end anyway. Furthermore,  memories become worthless once we are dead.

Next the author links this concept to idea of "being in the now" or mindfulness.

The part which I find of value is the idea that being focused on the now should not be misinterpreted as being not bothered about the future. Having plans for the future is compatible with the idea of being in the now. We can plan ahead, but once planning for the future is over, we can then refocus on the present moment.

I think this idea has merit.

On social media, there's viral story about a business man who meets a fisherman. The businessmen tries to convince the fishermen to up his game, scale his business, and be more ambitious in life but soon realizes that, in the end, the fisherman will end up being in the same position he is currently in.

This story is insidious and can mislead the reader into ignoring the bad things that may happen in the future.

If the fishermen tries to live his life in the moment and maintain status quo, unpredictable events can take him out of his comfort zone, and there may be no chance of recovery from catastrophic events. For example, a child falling ill may burden him with medical bills.  If the fishermen works hard to scale his business, he may accumulate more resources which can then be used by him or his family. While he might come back full circle much later in the future, he would have more resources to deal with calamities and may even leave a legacy for his children.

The moral of the story is that sometimes stories exist to pander to the weak and to defend lifestyle choices that lead to mediocre outcomes. 

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