Besides asking me to frequently update his list of many and sundry possessions for insurance company updates, Raymond Joslin had a little side project going (besides spending time on reviewing his investments -- he’d get Wells Fargo Bank statements that I’d file for him, in the filing room behind “my” desk).
He was working on his memoirs: apparently, he was seeing a psychotherapist who told him it would be good for him to reminisce about his early life and write it down. So, being an old school kind of executive (who didn’t type), he’d dictate these reminiscences and have his assistant type them up. Since his usual assistant was away, he readily dumped those microcassettes on my desk and had me transcribe for him.
Admittedly, I like to transcribe, but I couldn’t help smirking at the stuff he was saying and having memorialized. I guess it was the tone of the memoir, not the content: he sounded very first person Dickensian-cum-Horatio Alger. You know, the poor little waif who, by dint of pluck, hard work, and luck, pulls himself up by his bootstraps and makes something of himself. A sour note of resentment ran through it, though. . . maybe his parents rejected him and his grandparents raised him, maybe the people in his church didn’t give enough of a helping hand. . . I just thought some of it sounded unbecoming.
I did hope that he was going to do a LOT of editing. Or, I hoped that he could change the way he was thinking about things from his past. As Epictetus was teaching me by reading my little book of the Stoic philosopher’s quotes, daily, he points out how we’re powerless to change anything in life but our attitudes towards it and things that happen in life. . .
If that’s not invaluable advice, nothing is.