We had another big leaving do at work this week. Hard to do justice to over 30 years (by my rough estimate 8,000 or so working days) of a person’s working life in 15 minutes of speeches, but it felt a bit flat all told.
A friend of mine I spoke to at the event, put me onto the ‘QI Book of the Dead’ before Christmas. Several dozen great men and women, of all times and places, types and backgrounds. From Ghengis Khan to Henry Ford, Florence Nightingale to Emma, Lady Hamilton (left). They are a remarkable bunch. It’s an easy and enjoyable read. I won’t spoil its many surprises here. But three things stood out for me:
1) You absolutely can’t write your own epitaph
2) Many of the most famous and powerful people died in disgrace, despair or destitution – but often didn’t care so much about it in the end.
3) Most of the thinkers we revere today were completely ignored in their own lifetimes.
It summed up for me to: enjoy the day, follow your passions, have fun, and, if any of it is remembered, it probably won’t be what you expected. I think I’ll let go of my obituary, it won’t be me who writes it – either in work or life.