It’s interesting the way in which our minds form a mental picture of people, places and events – we seem to latch on to a particular memory, impression or picture and that becomes representative of how we ‘see’ a place, person or event – even though the reality may change to become something totally different over time.
Even though i wasn’t around to ever see The Beatles in their heyday, my overwhelming and enduring mental image of them is as fresh-faced, mop-topped, collarless-suited wearing young lads – usually on stage at a ‘proper’ theatre venue, (and always in monochrome!). That’s the picture i have whenever i listen to the Beatles, no matter from what point during their career – and the same can be said about many other bands that i’m familiar with, each one with their own representative preserved iconic ‘moment in time’. Recently i watched the famous Abbey Road rooftop concert and i found it surprisingly difficult to reconcile the bearded, scruffy yobs i was watching with my own mental picture of The Beatles.
The subject cropped up at a recent ‘chill night’ at the Killing Moon Pub, when a friend mentioned that they’d been to a school reunion – not something that i’d ever contemplate myself, whoever said that schooldays are the best days of your life obviously never attended my school! The person in question was relating how his recollection of old classmates had – in his mind – remained frozen in time, both their appearance and memorable characteristics, yet the reality was very much different. He was surprised at just how much his mental image of individuals he’d known years ago bore no relation to the present day, and was surprised at how many of the class losers had turned out to be doctors and such-like. Hearing this, i couldn’t help wondering just how many attendees at class reunions actually lie about their lot in life – and, in fact, my surmisings were almost immediately confirmed when my friend mentioned that he’d borrowed a friend’s Bentley to turn up in, rather than use his own, rather battered and less prestigious car for the occasion!
Many of us, i fear, are a little less than content with the hand that life has dealt us and i can’t help but think that a great number of us are a little embarrassed by our own perceived lack of success, achievement, fame and fortune when measured up to our peers, even if our only contact with them over the years may be somewhat fleeting. Yet, if i consider the rl achievements of a great many of the people i count as friends in sl, i’m constantly amazed by the remarkable lives that they have lived. Amongst them are successful business men and women, musicians, writers and entrepreneurs – people who’ve achieved success in their fields and have amazing stories to tell. There are also those who’ve undertaken incredible personal challenges, have seen the world, or who face a daily struggle just to get on with what we would term a ‘normal’ life because of personal or family circumstances. Even so, few of these remarkable people would not feel a slight niggle of insecurity when thrown into a class reunion, surrounded by all those once snotty-nosed swots who now, by some miracle have turned out to be world-class scientists, investment brokers, and brain surgeons – and that’s such a shame, because pretty much everyone i know in sl has something that they can, and should be proud of.
There’s something more though… many of those same people can boast achievements to be proud of in sl too. So, our rl ex-classmates may be doctors and rock stars, prime-ministers and astronauts, but how many of them can say that they single-handedly built their own home, (or town!), run a successful fashion house, retail business or night club or live lives that are constantly full of excitement, mystery and surprises, always stimulating and interesting and inherently satisfying? Not many, i’ll bet!
Most of us are pretty good at putting ourselves down or at comparing ourselves unfavourably against others – sometimes, it might do us good to consider how much we have actually achieved, and even if the example from rl are a little bit sparse, then take a look at sl, and i’m sure that you’ll find something that makes you more than a success!
And where do you go?
With no destination, no map to guide you
Wouldn’t you know
That it doesn’t matter, we all end up the same
Good Charlotte – Chronicles Of Life And Death