The clues to your future

We like to re-live our most loved stories.

A few weeks ago I started the Harry Potter series again. I know what happens. Everyone does. But I still enjoy them.

A story is powerful when we’ve heard/read/seen it and we’re still excited to come back to it.

I’ve read J.K. Rowling’s books many times. I’ve read The Lord of the Rings several times. I’ve read Nassim Taleb’s books at least three times. I watch Love Actually every Christmas. I’ve listened to the same albums and songs thousands of times over. I’ve read Robert Greene’s work three times. I’ve watched many movies more than once.

Why?

The books we read multiple times, or feel the urge to revisit, are the ones that hold some significance for us. The art we are keen to experience many times over is powerful.

Sometimes their significance is overt and obvious. I’ve been through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations countless times. The same with Seneca’s letters. Mostly because they’ve helped me untangle and solve problems in my own life.

Sometimes, the reasoning takes a few years to emerge. The recent re-reading of the Harry Potter series is motivated partly because I enjoy the story and partly because I want to see how J.K. Rowling is able to create such a captivating universe.

The modern tendency is to shunt these emotional signals aside in favour of pure rationality. To do everything in pursuit of the deities called Productivity and Getting Things Done.

​We ignore our impulses in favour of our intellect. But when it comes time to sense what holds the most value, the most power and the most impact for us, our intuition is often a safer guide than our easily corrupt logic.

With more and more introduced to the world every day, it’s a race to keep up. There are more books than we will ever be able to read. There are more films than we will ever be able to see. There is more music being made than we will ever be able to listen to.

A lot of them are great. Amazing. Potentially life-changing. But we’ll never experience them.

Still, we chase what is on the horizon. We scramble after the next thing that will make a difference and change us for the better. But in this race to keep moving forward, it’s easy to forget what we’ve left behind.

When we do this, we overlook the fact that our past—what we’ve done, where we’ve been, the stories we’ve read, the art that has touched us—holds clues to our future. But we won’t find them if we don’t make time to come back to the old.

So think back. What stories changed your life? What did you love to read and watch and hear?

Examine them again. You’ll undoubtedly find a childish infatuation and youthful obsessiveness. But you may also re-discover something about yourself that you’ve forgotten. Something that could be valuable to you going forward.