I f you have ever watched more than one movie in your life, then it’s probable that in the course of your movie watching life you’ve seen one or two that had Dracula in it. As such it is then also likely that you know a few things about this Nosferatu; chiefly that he likes coffins. And, he dislikes the Sun, his wardrobe exclusively consists of dark attire, his dietary habits leave a lot to be desired, and he is immortal.
From all of the above characteristics, the thing I find most fascinating about Dracula is his immortality. I do often find myself wondering how Dracula manages to live for more than a thousand years without driving a wooden stake through his own heart out of sheer boredom. I mean, we mortals can only manage 40, maybe 50 years before we start getting restless, measuring where we are in life, wondering what we’re still doing here, going crazy thinking about it. We just about manage not to drive a screwdriver through the eye to end it all.
And then it struck me, Dracula manages to keep it together because every century or so, he reinvents himself, which I imagine is essential to his staying sane after being around for so long. Plus, he kind of has to as it wouldn’t do him any good if he stayed the same and in one place for too long – neighbours talk, and in Dracula’s case, that’s when mobs with pitchforks, torches and stakes come out.
How Dracula goes about reinventing himself deserves a closer look. If nothing else, we can learn from it, and apply it to our own, much shorter, mortal lives. You see, reinvention for us mortals is neither easy nor smooth. Often, we encounter resistance – some external, most of it internal. We don’t want to let go, even of things that cause us pain, or things that are obviously out of our grasp. We work so hard to create beliefs or stories about ourselves, self-image, that then hold us back from trying new things and becoming more than we are.
But not Dracula, he’s turned reinvention into art. How?
Dracula evolves; notice that as he marches through the years, he adapts to the times he’s in, assuming a new identity every 80 to 100 years. Immersing himself completely in that identity, he learns new skills and talents, building on his strengths and what comes naturally to him. In doing so he adds to his own vast well of life experiences. He however, unlike us, does not hang on to the past, for Dracula knows that the trick to reinvention is to let go of what was, who you were, and what you had because if you don’t, you’ll never be more than you are.
Dracula teaches us that reinvention isn’t about creating an alternate personality; it’s about growing, changing, evolving, expanding and recreating what you already have and who you already are. It’s the same as the way your interests and goals continually change as you get older. You don’t become a different person when you reinvent yourself, you’re still you but a better you.
The ‘meaning of life’ for a person, a society, a culture and a business can be defined in two words – to evolve. – Anonymous
I can’t think of a better teacher on evolving and reinventing yourself, than Dracula.