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Running after lost harmony, and constantly trying to create a new one.

When work is tight to a soft slavery, it is hard to find the sense of it all. Thierry shows us how he finds a way out of French depression.

by William Franck

Thierry, Strasbourg.  

Have u lately met somebody that deeply enjoyed being at work, liking what she/he was doing?

Well, the answer is no. I feel work has become a burden, even more than it was before for most people. In my experience of ‘work’, in what I call “low level management in transnational business”, the question of ‘the sense of it all’ has changed. While the generation of our parents built their life through the process of having a job – being at work, I find most people being trapped in a simple financial relationship with whoever provides them a job. So, “before”, a company also meant some form of working community. I have the feeling I see this vanishing.

People are trapped, because they basically have no choice once they’re stepping in the system. One model is being proposed; you have to go with the rules (consumerism, a social position …), it’s impossible to step outside. That’s the way we mostly feel. Very French maybe …

Would there be a way to redesign work… empowering workers? Recreating a feeling of belonging to a community… I hope, and think, there is. To be a real individual. To be a citizen, responsible and enlightened. And to decide you want to associate with your likes and build a community. Not the way things go on the job market, though. I feel people have been dispossessed of the sense of community.

The way to go is individual entrepreneurship. The job market does decide…, in the sense that people were made to believe it. The exercise of freedom is a little more difficult with 10 % unemployment (what we’ve lived for the past 20 years) than in the early 70′s. Ideology is the ground to it all. A battle was won in the 80′s by the “liberals” (in the French understanding), and we’re still living in the same prism. TINA! (there is no alternative) … It is difficult to see where all this will lead to. The way to free individuals … or little freedom left at all?

Why do people not just take the next exit… redesigning their lives, working lives?

Simply because they feel (are made to believe) they can’t.  The French society, for example, is totally in despair, because its community model is being blown apart. And the perspective of taking our destiny in hand is not easy (La Boetie was talking about “voluntary servitude” in the XVIth century), and even more difficult when the news show the daily consequences of people’s revolts or revolutions.

Not to watch the news, that certainly is a start.

History repeats itself, we just don’t learn. I strongly believe capitalism would have died before 1850, if people hadn’t resisted to the invisible hand of the markets. Moreover, the similarity between some aspects of today and the 1930′s is rather striking! The meaning of work... Le ‘travail’ in French, not to forget it comes from the Latin ‘tripalium’, a torture instrument… Work… is what enables you to pay the bills.

I have some forms of joy at work, despite all I said before, on a daily basis. All these little things… when you feel you’ve achieved something. Sometimes good for the community. To have your coworkers or customers satisfied does bring some joy. Sometimes for the wrong reasons . I definitely find joy in… setting goals, as little as they may be, and to reach them is probably a good way to go. For example, looking back at this week’s work with my coworkers and saying together ‘good job’. Enjoy your weekend! “Enjoy your weekend” is just the end of the quote! And the real achievement!

Success to me is… I don’t know… and feel I’m actually not really interested. Possibly to look back on the day, and think ‘ok’. To have the strength to stay true to yourself. My work should actually be very sync to the way the world is running. It’s just that I’m not very sync with my work and the way society is running…

So, if you can’t choose your work, you have to do something else, something real, with your life … outside of work. Music for example… and sports… I feel I’ve been close to burn out for (at least) the past 5 years, but I have been able to maintain my head above water thanks to having a guitar and running sneaker. Sneakers, actually I don’t run that much anymore… just on just one healthy leg… You’ve got a good doc?  I wish…

How much space is left for intuition in your life? I try to leave intuition as much space as I can. And feel it difficult. Almost as difficult as to answer this question. How did u get in touch with music?

My senior year in high school. Regular lunch invitations at a friend’s house – a good change from boarding school food. And for dessert, him playing Rolling Stones’ riffs on his Telecaster. And what is your music about? About a broken heart, how life can be hard and beautiful, and hope …

Somehow… Sounds like running away… “Echappatoire”, Exit…

It definitely is… I believe life is about running after lost harmony. And constantly trying to create a new one. That won’t last. Makes it all worthwhile, actually.

What would be THE job of your dreams? If you could restart, NOW?

Still trying to find out. Something that’s not a job.

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