For the best part of my career I had a trusty cartoon companion – my mate Ed.
Ed first appeared on my slides when I needed to explain that most of us have multiple identities – our personas. Some of these were how we saw ourselves in different contexts – at work or home or in the band – or they reflected how others saw us.
Ed was, by birth, truly European and was first drawn to decorate a Scandinavian promotion for a telecoms company. By the end of the 1970’s he was on hand to help me explain new identity options that were arriving with the advent of eMail.
It is nowadays difficult to explain the scale of that task but back then (before personal computers, mobile phones, message pagers or the Internet) telephone numbers and lists of them were important but not stored on anything other than paper. And then suddenly we were introducing new, alternative, identities like email addresses and translations of those into meaningful names or functions.
Ed was Ed because in one serious context he was ‘Head of Communications’ or, when he relaxed listening to Blondie, he became Ed Phones. He also served in academic circles as Ed Hoc, Prof. Ed or Dr. Ed Ovstrawski PhD but at home (or when visiting his children in Australia) he was more likely to be called Ded.
Ed has been retired many years now and rarely emerges from his comfortable archived crate in the loft – but now and again he senses that his life’s work remains unfulfilled. Last Friday morning I chanced to meet him on the stairs. “What are you doing down here, Ed?” “Just thought you might need reminding.”
Last Friday morning the newsfeed had told me I was not who I thought I was, not living where I imagined, not part of that community, not sharing the same delusions. We live in bubbles of our own imagination. Apparently my locale is in the top ten percent of UK places populated by folk with an entirely different worldview. I have many friends but I know none of these people from LeaviaLand. Such are the delusional distances – the vast gulfs – that divided us in this EU Neverendum.
In business we are urged to ‘think outside of the box’ – indeed my own logo reflects that process – but now there is no box to constrain identity. Today about half of the UK let go of something they’d not fully grasped. Today the other half realised they had not fully grasped why the others were letting go.
Just for a moment we glimpsed the agony of those fleeing from warfare that is destroying what they imagined was their country. Today we can understand the anger of the disposed and disillusioned. Today we (yes all of us) are like migrants wishing to plant new roots – to re-frame whoever we might be – and (some may hope) build bridges for their futures.
These seismic moments when reality breaks through are very rare but always devastating in direct proportion to the investments we made in our now thoughtlessly discarded frames.
As poet John Fuller wrote:
And it is late
To establish reasons for preferring
The things we prefer
When now it seems grotesque to imagine
That they might occur.
Thanks for reminding me, Ed.