Three Minutes That Changed My Life

Philip Ogley
3 min readMay 28, 2022
(Image/ Arek Socha/Pixabay)

There is a 1913 novel by Alain Fournier called Les Grandes Meaulnes.

Fournier’s classic tells the story of Augustin Meaulnes (pronounced Mône) who after running away from his boarding school, encounters a mysterious country house and a beautiful woman within it.

After his return a few days later, he tells about his adventures to his best friend François (the narrator of the book) and his promise to return there one day to find her.

The château in Fournier’s novel is the green light at the end of Daisy’s jetty in The Great Gatsby. Both are symbols of hope for the two main characters in each novel.

From now on anything is possible.

…once a man has taken a step in Paradise, how can he afterwards get used to living like everyone else…

— Le Grand Meaulnes

It’s a killer line, and I found it poignant for lots of reasons.

I once had a career as a research scientist lined up. By 22 I’d worked for the UK and French Ministries of Agriculture plus AstraZeneca via student internships while I studied Plant Science.

I was prime research scientist material, and was ready to go.

Then Neil Young came into my life.

During my fourth year at university, I started going along to open mic sessions in my local pub. One night I plucked up enough courage to play Hey Hey My My.

That one three-minute mangling of Neil Young’s classic changed everything.

After I finished university, I sought out bandmates, and joined a couple of bands.

I did it for three years, always with the idea of going back into science at some point.

But I never did.

That world seemed dry and dead now. I wanted more, I wanted to see things, explore the world on my terms. Not the terms dictated by five weeks holiday a year and a corporate health pass.

Up until that moment I stepped on stage, my life was on autopilot.

Good school, good university, good degree, corporate experience…blah!

To come: (probable)

Philip Ogley

21st century content creator