The Last Story (#SoGv2 - 34)

The Last Story


Trust you are doing good! I am back with yet another letter, yet another idea from a giant. This one comes from a friend who moved to another country. This friend, let's call him A, writes these lovely letters to me, makes me wonder why can't we bring back the old days when people would write thoughtful, thought-provoking emails to each other! Would you want to start a club like that with me? Lemme know, please :)

Coming back. So, this is the letter that A wrote to me. I am reproducing this in whole (have redacted some parts to safeguard privacy).


Dear Saurabh,

Do you know the last story? Your last story?

When I decided to move here, I had a surprising reaction from many people back there. More than a few times, I heard, ‘oh, that’s brave!’ or ‘oh, you are brave!’.

A varied bunch of people including my former boss, some colleagues, a couple of friends exclaimed the same expression. At first, I thought they were just trying to use a nicer word for ‘stupid’. But hearing the word brave was an unexpected reaction for me. To begin with, I didn’t think my decision was brave. To me, it was a cliched risk-free choice, where I was simply following a herd. But it seemed like the right decision given the circumstances I found myself in. And secondly, I never imagined myself to be brave. That was a word I never associated with myself or my personality. I was always strong but not brave. Former determines the unimaginable capacity to deal with pain and remain equanimous when faced with big successes or deep failures; however, the later is about facing one’s fears and being able to transcend that in quest of something bigger, better, something important. I was never brave or courageous. That wasn’t my trait. Courage wasn’t really my thing.

I didn’t understand this reaction. The reason it surprised me was because many people with different backgrounds and different level of relationships with me said this. And used the same word, ‘brave’.

For me, coming here was an experiment, a fun experiment. It was also an escape. It was also a break from the monotony of life. I don’t know for sure what I wanted more. But I didn’t think I was doing something difficult. I was aware of the challenges. I was excited about the opportunities. But mostly I just wanted to see a new story. Maybe make a new story.

When I was a child, I often wondered why do we get only one life and only one role. Why can’t I experience different lives in the same life? Why can’t I see the world as a man and a woman, as an Indian and an African and an American, as a Doctor and a writer and a painter? Every life story has many facets and many perspectives. And every person has access to only those stories. Everything else they see and experience are second-hand. Other than the experience of being me and the incessant stream of thoughts about myself trapped in my head, everything else I know is second-hand - what you told me and what I read in a book and what I saw in a movie.

We further create barriers to constrain our lives. We have one life and we choose only one life. Our life is only one story. Most of the people we know live one story. The story they were born in was the last story of their lives.

But life is not linear or continuous. It’s a series of moments. Just like a movie is actually a series of images that are put together and are moved very fast to give an illusion of a continuous video. Life is not a movie.

Everyone grows and evolves. We learn new things and we change. But most of us see life in continuity, a continuous story, not a disconnected series of moments. And that gives them a story, a story about themselves, their lives, their struggles and their achievements. This story has a beginning, a prolonged middle with many chapters and a fantasy end. We remember the high and low points of our lives to build a story about ourselves. What we don’t know or don’t acknowledge is that memory is unreliable. We remember events and important moments through the lens of our personal filter. We create our own story. We have one continuous story with multiple chapters. And the thread connecting those chapters is ‘me', that one entity without which there would be no story.

However, there is no single ‘I'. I am not the same person I was a few years back. I made choices that allowed me to be different people. When someone tells me I am restarting my life or resetting my life or it’s brave that I could restart my life, I don’t understand that very well. I have done it many times before. In my head, I was just writing a different story with a different protagonist. My views and motivations are different in each story. My journey and imaginary goals are different. I am not one linear continuous story. And that makes life more interesting.

Resetting life sounds like a scary thing. But writing a new story sounds exciting. And quite necessary actually if you want a more full and richer life. You shouldn’t be worried to make difficult choices leading you to unknown places. If you have lived the life of an entrepreneur, the life of an employee is going to be a different story. And vice versa. If you have lived the life of an engineer, the life of a wandering photographer is going to be a different story.

We do have the option to live many lives and create many stories. Don’t be afraid to live another story. What's the fun in having your first story as your last story!

Writing a new story in REDACTED,

PS: I was wondering if I sound preachy with this. I don’t mean to give it out as a recipe to everyone. There are some single stories that are great stories and are great precisely because they are focused. Eg Bill Gates, A R Rehman, Sachin Tendulkar. Perhaps the people who imagine and design their stories from the beginning deserve that one grand story. But I have always been a bit of wanderer, always moving around, even in my mind. Most of the times I don’t know where I am going and why I am going there. I find joy in the discovery. Perhaps someday my mind with settle, when I reach a point where external stimuli will stop having any influence over me and my mind. Till then, I wander. And till then, I continue to seek new stories and new perspectives. Perhaps all these different stories will teach me a lesson about stability. Or perhaps I am wandering because I am still searching for my last story.


The question ladies and gents, is, what is your story? Is it the last story? For me, this is definitely not!

And thank you, A, for this.

Thank you for your time! Here's to some deep work!
2204, Wadhwa. SoGv2-34
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TAGS: Guest Column, Story, Courage, Bravdo.

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