A meditation on the relevance of celebrating one’s ever unfolding life story through the preservation and recognition of memories.
With sweeping enthusiasm, former Esquire editor-in-chief Eisenberg (Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What, 2009, etc.) acknowledges the presence of a metaphoric storywriter in the brain (the conscious “narrating mind”) that records and assembles our most significant moments into coherent and meaningful memory chapters. Whether due to technology or diminishing attention spans, many people, he believes, simply don’t bother acknowledging the significance of their life stories or their individual memories; after all, “now that we’re all packing search engines in our pockets, we don’t need to remember as much as we used to.” Eisenberg encourages readers to become more active compilers of their own life stories. Whether cinematic or anticlimactic, each memory is unique to the individual psyche. Regardless of emotional heft, these “stories” are exquisitely personal, forming the beginning, middle, and conclusion of a person’s legacy. The author expands on this theory in affable, accessible language and further engages readers with generous references to his own pivotal human-interest anecdotes. He also explores theories from social scientists, ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, William James, and historical literary figures who each, in one way or another, support his theory that our search for personal purpose and meaning is tantamount to happiness and fulfillment—particularly at midlife. In three intriguing closing questionnaires, the author invites readers further into the heart of his contemplative observations to mindfully record and preserve what is experienced in order to appreciate the present and fortify the future as “generation to generation, the stories we hear, the stories we tell, and the stories we build upstairs commingle and live on indefinitely.”
Challengingly thought-provoking, Eisenberg’s self-probing processes will encourage anyone to further ponder the meaning of life.