Life in Paris is not always bowl of cherries, but it rarely goes long without a surprise. Most of the surprises are pleasant. A few are enlightening.
One of the more enlightening moments occurred recently. (I’ll be intentionally vague with details to protect the privacy of those involved.)
A young person from the United States was discussing their perspective and subsequent choices in life. The ‘narrative’ terminology used caught my attention. I’ll paraphrase what I overheard…
“I don’t watch television because what I saw was that they were presenting a fairy tale narrative that said if I just wait, wish, hope, or play the lottery, one day I’ll magically win a million dollars. Or that some benevolent authority figure will suddenly recognize and reward my talent. Like a judge on a talent show.
“The other narrative is how I need to buy stuff in order to have a certain life. To be a certain person.
“Then there’s the narrative of how I’m supposed to act. I act the way I act, which is not rude but nobody’s fool. And what I’m supposed to believe. People want you to believe all sorts of stuff. I believe what I’ve experienced and what I can verify.”
The observations were incredibly astute, especially given the fact that this person was, I’m fairly confident, under 30 years of age. I think their college experience was interrupted, but there was some serious exposure to high-level thinking. The vocabulary was primitive in spots with a flourish here and there. In between, very few ‘uh’s and ‘you know’s and ‘like’s that plague many conversations.
Some serious reading had taken place, and, when they started to discuss certain business topics, clarity and insight were top shelf. (I’ve sat around the table with one or two ex-IMF/World Bank/private bank guys here, so I’ve learned to recognize the thought process of really smart money people.)
I think a rigorous examination of this ‘narrative’ concept is something we could all consider and benefit from. Being aware of it has certainly served this particular person well. They’re self-made, successful, grounded, and generous.
We’ll be returning to this topic in the near future. Stay tuned…