Tag Archives: Job

Subsyruped

There’s another emotion I’d like to describe, but don’t know a name for. At the time I am writing this down, I haven’t found the right word yet, so I’m going to try to squeeze it out by writing this text. Surround it. Catch it. Become it. Look at it from a distance. As if some part of my mind yet has to travel to that point, a light perhaps, where it has crystallized.

It’s a high tension emotion which, in my case, only arises from the interaction with another human. An interaction with high charge. The emotion comes afterwards, when, in an upcomming surge, the conversation starts playing back inside my head. When it rises in between me and my thoughts, hijacks them and blinds me from what’s happening around.

There are three clear moments when this can happen in my case: after an argument or a fight, when I have a crush on someone, and as occurred recently, when I have a job interview. There’s always a question involved. A fight can leave me puzzled about the question ‘who is right?’. The anger fuels this, and causes me not to think clearly. In the turbulence, I construct a frame of thoughts that makes me right, and makes me feel better about myself. Then I start wondering how I can relate back to the other person. Solve it. All that time, I’m dominated by this same emotion.  Having a crush is similar, but the life-dependent question there is: “does she like me back?”. Whatever that may mean. Very important, obviously, so there come the thoughts that interpret the conversation during the recent date in my favour, and there goes the focus on anything else. Job interviews, might objectively have an impact on my life, but they trigger the same mechanism. Did I say this right? Was I spontaneous enough? Should I have added more information here? Was I too quick? To jovial? Still didn’t hear if they hired me, by the way, but the emotion has faded by now.

What I want to describe, find a word for, is the gooey structure of this emotion, which I notice if I want to break it. For example, when I want to get to work. It’s so viscous, that when I arrive at a point where I can concentrate, it undermines that, lurking me back into its useless rambling. And particularly when I fight it, it can cause electric bursts of panic in my heart or shoulder, or right under my belly button. But surrendering to it doesn’t release its grip either: it fuels it. Regardless of how I relate to it, it passes with time. As a falling tide.

It’s a bit like being submerged by a flood of mental syrup, really. My functional mind moves slowly and with a lot for force, working itself into being stuck in a new position. There seems to be a lot going on, but in fact I’m stuck in a sticky cloud of anxieties. Think I’ll call it subsyrupism. As in, “I’m feeling very subsyruped” today. Or: “she can’t hear you, she’s subsyruped.”  Yes, that works. Good. Subsyruped it is.

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Decorating judgements

Last week, I wrote about the fact that we have institutionalized judgment, that we overly value it and even publically thrive on the act. Today I’d like to propose that if indeed we appreciate judgement so much, let’s take it a step further. Give it a personal touch. Add a little cherry to the cake.

Imagine you see a fat bald guy on the street. Someone whom you’d classify as ‘eating disorder’. One of those people that starts sweating after a hundred meter’s walk and sits down for a break after another. You could call this person an elephant and turn your head away, but you could also keep looking at him and wonder how a long grey trunk would suit him. If he was an elephant and would walk through the street, would it cause cracks in the asphalt? You would probably feel it shaking. And what if he would be covered with some amazingly detailed Persian carpet and seated upon by a Maharadja? He could be walking in a parade. Would that make you smile? Perhaps he’d smile back.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It is why I plea for more imaginative judgement. Spice it up a little. What good is a sentence such as ‘I don’t like her looks’, if you can say ‘her screaming khaki shirt reminds me of the day when I lost my cat and went for a drink in that bar with this plant that seemed to have grown on some volcano in Singapore, and I burned myself on it. What an unlucky day that was’. People will understand you better. Even that girl in the khaki shirt will accept that you don’t want to talk to her.

So, next time you reject somebody for a job because of his darker skin tone, don’t go with ‘you didn’t meet the criteria’, that hardly bears witness of a thoughtful approach. Be creative: ‘during the interview, I saw a mosquito on your nose, and when it flew out of the window, I saw it grow in size and land on a woman on the street and when it was done with her, all that was left was a pile of bones wrapped in some skin. I cannot take the risk that your blood type has that effect on other mosquitoes in the office: that would compromise the productivity of the other employees’ is far easier to digest for the applicant. There, you have a clear and well framed reason of which the candidate may think: ‘o well, at least she considered me seriously, better luck next time’.

Do you see my point? There is a lot of potential out there to make the world a better place by taking judgement to a new level. And there’s societal momentum for it. I say: ‘let’s go!’.

A different hat

Magicians are fascinating people. As a kid I was always stunned by what some of them manage to pull off. Learned some small tricks myself. Chris Bordet, earns his living with sleight of hand. We meet for an interview at the Central Station of Amsterdam and find a bench near the water. While we watch birds and boats pass by, we talk about the ins and outs of his work.

Chris lets me know that the English word magician is deceiving because it raises the impression that the tricks are real. He prefers the Dutch word ´goochelaar´, etymologically linked to ´joke´, and the French word ´prestidigitateur´, literally meaning finger artist. He also likes the German ‘Tasche Künstler’, ´pocket artist´.”I am not a magician” he says “I play the role of one”. The difficult part is to believe what you do and trying to project that to the audience. Body language is very important.

A microcosmos
The common 52 card deck can be seen as a model of our world. The two colours, red and black, represent the principle of duality. There are the four seasons for clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts; the 52 cards represent the 52 weeks; there are thirteen cards in each suit, representing the 13 moons in the year; if you add up the numbers of all cards, you get 364 and if you add the joker, you have 365. “It´s a story magicians use to mystify their act, to get people in the mood and distract them from the technique. First you create a frame, then you can play with it.”

Magic works in the same way as humour in the sense that it aims to surprise the audience. He explains: “it´s playing with the unexpected.” as he grabs a match from behind my ear. “You start with something very easy and then you go further.” He´s now holding three matches. “And maybe at the moment, because it´s surprising, it can be a little mind-blowing. That´s a big word, but it´s the goal of the magician”. The matches disappear behind his lifted hand.

“Let me show you a trick to illustrate how it works” He gives me a deck. “Pick your favourite card”. I check his deck and take the Ace of Spades. I return the deck, and give him my card. He puts it somewhere in the middle and shuffles. He takes out some cards and counts them, showing them one by one from the back. Four cards. He passes me the deck back, I keep it in my hands. Then asks me if my favourite card might be among the cards in his hand. I say I´m not going to tell him.
“Okay … I’m the magician, Let´s check if it was among them”. He turns around a Ten of Diamonds, ponders a little and says: “It was not the Ten of Diamonds.” He takes a look at the second card and says “No, it wasn’t the Eight of Diamonds either. He shows me the card. He takes a look at the third card and says: okay, maybe it´s the Ace of Spades. He puts it back, reveals all cards in his hand and says: “well the Ace of Spades always has the weird habit to fly back into the deck.” There are three cards there, no Ace of Spades.

I check the deck in my hands. The Ace of Spades is in the middle, up side down, smiling at me. Damn… It flew back into my hand, and I missed it.

He explains the trick this time. First, he showed me four cards from the back, but one was counted twice. He gave me the deck back and asked if my card was among his cards. The question served as a reminder that there were four. By making me think of that number, he made me strengthen my own belief that indeed, there are four cards in his hands. The Ace of Spades was already back in rest of the deck that I was holding in my hands. “Not a big deal” explains the prestidigitateur. There were in fact three remaining cards. He first revealed  the Ten of Diamonds saying”Ten of Diamonds”. Of course I didn’t notice, because he was pretending to be figuring out if that was the one. The second time he looked at it first, then said “Eight of Diamonds”, and showed it to me as a confirmation that he was speaking the truth. The third time, he just said “Ace of Spades”, causing me to create the image of the Ace of Spades in my mind which was enough to believe it was there in his hand. “It´s all about images.” Chris says. “It´s conditioning. I have manipulated you to believe that I really had this card in my hand, but it was in your hands all the time.”

“Film and magic are a very similar arts. Just like with comedy, it is often the visual effect that makes people laugh, not what you say. People miss out on the point where they should look, they´re always a few steps behind. That´s how it works . An important principle of magic is that we shouldn´t do things that seem too impossible, because otherwise people will see the solution. For example, if you are working with a secret companion and the things you do are too big, they´ll know that this person was your companion.”

The dark side of magic
Chris knows magicians who pretend to be the real thing. One of them always has a crow with him. He wears his magician clothes in the street. He plays the role non-stop.

Have you figured out any of his tricks?
“Yes, yes of course. He attended the Uri Geller show in Germany once and he won, because a lot of people just believed him. They want to believe in something like that. He´s a spooky person. He told me once that when he was a child, he took his church robe on a skateboard to scare the old people into the belief that he was hovering over the street. It´s funny that people like that exist. Once when I was visiting him he made his crow fly in a circle around me, touching me very gently, and then it sat in front of me. I don´t know if it was a trick, but for a moment I thought: “this is pretty impressive”. I think he uses his tricks in conjunction with some gift he has or something. But it´s about demonstrating power, it´s not the kind of magic I like. He is playing with people’s fear.”

Most magicians tend to distantiate themselves from the tricks others take too far. Magic clubs debunk people such as Uri Geller. It also happens in politics and religion. “You could say: wow, the twin towers are destroyed, now we have to go to war, but nobody knows what exactly happened. It could be a frame, made by somebody who has interest in propagating those ideas. The ancient Greeks moved their temples with the use of hydraulics to make people believe that their preachers had more power than they actually had.  Mass hypnosis.”

Can you as a magician steer other people?
I think every human can do that, yes. I think we are all one, and if we put a little bit of love in what we do, and pay some respect to each other, we automatically guide each other to the goal that is the right one. It has nothing to do with magic in that sense.

A miraculous paradox
How do you feel when you do magic?
“I feel good, because people are sometimes really happy. They feel so surprised at that moment, that they become like a child again, like the first time you see snow for example. Then I have achieved my goal, because they had this feeling for just three seconds, and I gave them a bit of happiness. There can be really loud laughter. Once or twice, I´ve seen a girl scream. I think they were too open for this kind of thing. One of the reasons why I do it is  to show people that not everything is like they think it is. Be carefull with what people make you believe.

Do you know tarot?
I ask the question because Chris reminds me of the fool card.
“Well, I´m always interested in mystical things, but more with the view of a magician, a goochelaar. I´m curious to see what´s the trick, because I don´t really believe it is real. In a sense I believe it is real, because by asking the question, you already have the answer more or less. It doesn´t really matter which card comes out, because either way it will give you a perspective on your question. The question is the important thing.” Chris enjoys watching tv shows where people call clairvoyants, who shake some nuts and an answer comes out. “It´s really entertaining, but it´s really sad for the people who believe it is real. The performers listen carefully to what a person says, then use psychoanalytical tricks to satisfy them. It´s pure coincidence which card comes up. You could use how the bird flies, or how the bird shits, or whatever.”

Does it make you feel better to know how these things work?
“No. It makes me feel more stupid, actually. We know nothing. It´s games. We try to find the truth, maybe, but we´re never going to find it. It´s not important to know everything. But of course we want to know. That´s why we have scientists. We want to know. But we don´t. Or at least, we don´t know the whole thing. Maybe it would be easier if we just lived.”

Wouldn´t it be nice to forget all of it from time to time?
“That´s the gift we magicians have, actually. We are able to perform as if we would be doing it for the first time. When another magician shows me a trick, and I think: WOW, then I want to transmit this initial feeling I had to other people. When I perform, I always look for the experience I had when I saw the trick for the first time, otherwise it doesn´t work that well. And that´s a perspective only magicians must have. I realised this when I worked with theater makers. Some directors forget about the impact something can have the first time when people see it. It´s something magicians are really good at. I know how I felt when I saw the trick, and I know how I should behave in a way that others have the same feeling. I believe it myself while I perform.”

With your knowledge about the tricks of life, do you believe in miracles?
Well of course I believe in miracles. The fact that we are sitting here the sun is here, it´s warm and next to the water, that already is a cool thing. I can be in control of myself, that is a real miracle. Sometimes things happen that put you back on a path of life. I have had it a few times that I wanted to do something big, but it was not possible, because I had an accident for example. Those events are like guides in your life. In that sense I do believe in miracles.

As I bike home, I digest the curious paradox Chris revealed today. His skill is that he is able to believe things that are not true, and he uses it to show others that they shouldn’t believe things that aren’t true. In fact, he doesn’t want others to believe him. By manipulating his own mind, he conveys the ease with which that can be done. By always approaching illusions, he takes a distance from them. Magicians are fascinating people.

Happiness engineers

If you work at Google nowadays you eat the healthiest food, work out and take naps whenever necessary. Your bosses will avoid conflict situations for you, encourage you to meditate and do whatever else is in their capacity to keep you as an individual happy. Why? When you are happy, your products are better.

In some advanced farms, cows are being trained to choose the timing of their milking by themselves. The machines they use for this system measure milking frequency and milk quality for every cow individually, and continuously adapt the cow’s diet to make her milk as nutritious as possible. The philosophy: every cow has innate needs satisfying those results in happiness and great milk. Such farms save human labour hours because no one has to force the poor animals into milking machines.

Have you ever heard of Plant Lab? This organization advocates that plants don’t enjoy growing in nature at all. The constant combat for light and nutrients and the irregularity of the weather make them stressed and weak. After long-lasting experiments, they have concluded that plants prefer stable, controlled conditions with purple light, the perfect amount of nutrients and a warm gentle breeze . In their arrangement, plants grow faster, are more nutritious and are more resistant to bugs. In fact, their defence systems become so effective, that if you take a seedling out of Plant Lab into the field, you don’t need to add pesticides for a whole month.

These are just three examples of how the performance of living beings is being optimized with support of knowledge and technology.  By paying more attention to the individual wants and needs, providing not more than the necessary, the boss spends less and gains more. The workers are happy. That’s a win-win, right?

Something in that construct itches me, but it’s not easy to place. Perhaps it is the fact that it emerges out of the industrial paradigm, out of the reductionist idea of beings as objects with on/off switches. By taking the experience of this being into account, by listening to it, one respects it in a different way. The reductionist paradigm meets the holistic paradigm, lifting society to an unprecedented state of enlightenment.

I haven’t convinced myself yet. Is it the idea of domineering? By giving someone precisely what he wants, one can control him entirely and use his energy at will. It increases the power of industry owners and mankind in general to a new level that can become scary if the power is in the wrong hands. Then again, if need satisfaction becomes the status quo, the owners are replaceable.

What itches me most, I think, is the fact that over my lifetime, I have learned to appreciate adventure and uncertainty. I have learned that longing for something for a while can deepen satisfaction in life. Perhaps I am afraid that if this trend continues and the emotional turbulence stabilizes, we will forget the beauty of suffering. Yet we luxuriant people have already long forgotten that.

I might just be old fashioned.

Image run wild

“Not the slightest hint of attention…” thought Shawn as he faded with the setting sun. “The man can’t live without me, but does he ever wonder what I want? Not an instant of the day.” Even if he was disappearing, the shadow was right. Evan had never cared about him and judging the circumstances it seemed unlikely that he would anywhere in the near future. He was more interested in lighter matters such as the computer screen, television or the occasional candle.

“Where would he be without me?” wondered Shawn after Evan had switched the light on. “No girl would take note of his sturdy jaws or his voluptuous lips. His qualities would lay hidden in a face that would seem plain and pale. No one would fall for him where it not for my indefatigable presence.” Not that it had had benefit so far, Evan was not the guy to make a move. Shawn nevertheless actively increased his chances must he ever tip over.

This did not occur to Evan. He turned on his television and sat down, casting a new version of Shawn on the wall behind him. It flickered dimly.  “THEre rEAlly SHoulD BE SOmethINg wE caN do ABout this” he said to his other self on the seat below Evan.  Evan, distracted by the lit up box on the other end, did not notice the conversation between Shawns insecure version and the more sturdy one carrying Evans behind. “Do you think it’s fair that I follow him wherever he goes, while he never even gives the slightest sign of respect? A little thank you once in a while would be nice. Flowers, chocolate, something! Once!” The flickering Shawn found it hard to wrap his head around these concepts, so he agreed with his alter ego on the couch.

Evan stood up. “There he goes!” shouted couch-Shawn, who now flashed to the floor and shot to the lower part of the wall. “Stands up and walks away, pretending nothing’s going on. That we’ll follow him without question. Well, that will not stand!” He had to run quickly and hop from wall to wall to keep up until the kitchen. It was when Evan opened the fridge, spawning yet another Shawn on the enormous plant behind him, that the poor shadow had enough. He lifted his arms to the ceiling and pulled himself up. Evan took his beer out of the fridge and closed it, making his shadow vanish in the darkness.

Evan walked back through the dining room to the TV, Shawn ran around him on the walls. “A man can only spend so much time without appreciating his shadow before it will get back at him” whispered Shawn who was back with his flickering him on the wall behind. He creeped slightly to the left. The flickering Shawn started impersonating Evan picking his nose. This amused the shadow on the couch, who thought some donkey ears would go well with that. Flickering Shawn, inspired, gave him a long tale by which he lifted himself into the shadow of a bonsai tree that stood near the lamp on the table. It to suddenly grew a shady banana. Shawn mimicked another monkey figure that took lice out of Evans fur. He ate them.

“Is that enough?” Evan, warned by jungle sounds, had turned around and now gazed at the scene with a condescending expression. Shawn drooped back to the chair. Evan turned back to the TV. The other Shawn pointed a flickering finger of accusation to the void and held an arm on his thigh. Couch-Shawn giggled silently. He drew a little black square moustache on his lip. Shawn topped this up with a flickering arm in the air, after which the whole figure rose out of its shady chair, threw a straight leg forward and took a step. They thought the resemblance was striking.

Evan, feeling ridiculed, stood up, ran to the wall and screamed: “stop it!” only to find himself yell at his own mirrored projection flickering on the wall. Shawn was delighted at the view. After Evan had turned around again he lifted his thumbs to his ears and wiggled his fingers. Evan himself was puzzled, but felt that he had sufficiently dealt with the situation. He watched some more TV, turned of the light, walked to the bedroom and went to sleep.

The sight of his ceiling at the moment Evan opened his eyes caused somewhat of a stir in his subconscious depths. He closed his eyes again, pretending that that would bring him back to sleep. Meanwhile, the stir moved through his belly, reached disrupting proportions around his heart, then sprang out through his eyes. Kaleidoscopic patterns swarmed over his walls and his ceiling. When he managed to wipe the sleep out of his eyes, Evan could discern little figures running all over. He stood up and walked to the wall, only to find that they were tiny portraits of himself, jumbling in what seemed the representation of a civil war.

One scene showed him running after a girl. She looked a lot like a miniature shadow of his first love Melinda. She ran and ran until she stopped then turned around and pursued him instead. This caused his miniature shadow to turn, run and disappear into the crowd. He saw a tiny picture of his boss behind his desk. On the other side of the desk, a figure of himself hurried in whichever direction the other pointed. The poor little fellow shrank with every act. Evan stood a meter away from his wall, witnessing shadowgraphs of forgotten fights with his brothers, struggles with his car and a strange incident in the supermarket which he found hard to place. The wall kept him hypnotized until all figures disappeared into what seemed a little black hole with an odd depth effect, shrinking down to an invisible size.“Wow…” thought Evan, as he fell backwards on his bed and closed his eyes.
“Uh-oh…” thought Evan as the phone rang downstairs. He jumped out of bed, skipped his house shoes and stumbled down the stairs ignoring three horned creatures the sun cast upon the wall to his left through the tiny windows to his right. They weren’t flattering.
“If you’re not here within half an hour” spoke Evan’s boss calmly through the receiver, “I’m going to have to let you go.” The connection was broken.

It took Evan twenty-eight minutes and thirty-six seconds to knock on his boss’s door. He had been obliged to skip some essential morning rituals, including shower, shave and breakfast. The cause of it all had, according to several eye witnesses continued its shenanigans. The shadow had indeed shown such engagement with its quest that it had managed to drag along crowds in its disobedience. It was for that reason that people looked up expecting to see a zeppelin when Evans bus drove by. It also explained the wavy movement of the buildings’ shadows on the city streets. Perhaps it even had something to do with the street map visuals on the clouds, bothering six meteorologists in the region.

While Evan did his very best to beg for mercy at the desk of his boss, Shawn made a long nose behind him. Ignatio, the boss, ignored the shadows recalcitrance. He had sufficient reason and justice to stick to his words. Evan had managed, against his expectations, to arrive within the given time. But he was not going to make it easy.
“I see you did not shave?” he asked, with a silent undertone.
“I’m sorry. I had to run. I reckoned it will be just for today. Tomorrow I’ll look in top shape again.” Ignatio ignored the gesture of denial made on the background. After all, one can not fire their employees on grounds of undesirable shadow motions. Besides, Evans clothes looked ironed and tidy as ever.
“What is your excuse for arriving this late?”
“Well, I woke up, turned off the alarm, and then by some overwhelming force got sucked back into sleeping mode. I had quite disturbing dreams about seeing…
“Dreams? Force? You’re saying you went to sleep again after turning off the alarm clock! What did you do last night?” Evan wanted to open his mouth, but the question was rhetorical. Shawn felt sudden pity for him, and accentuated Evan’s few weak gestures to support him on the background. Ignatio, ignoring that, entered a speech on how the values of a business are reflected by its employees, and that this kind of late coming must never happen again, and that he could consider buying a second alarm clock if he thought that necessary. He should also go to bed earlier, because well rested employees make a far better impression.
“What are you staring at?” asked Ignatio, noting an absence in Evans mind.
Somebody knocked.
“Yes?”
His secretary entered.
“Sir, the Ink Company® called. They asked when we will deliver the squids.”
“Come in. Evan, you can go. Don’t let this happen again.”
“I won’t”. Answered Evan. The eyes of the secretary looked bigger than usual as he passed. Behind his back, his shadow stroked hers over the shoulder with one finger. Hers threw one arm around Shawns neck.

Evans desk was tidy. Whoever had done that must come from a dark place where evil is forged and grandma wolf sits knitting sheep’s clothing for her twisted little boys.

Evans shade looked small now that the sun stood at its highest. “Morning, Evan” said Fun Freddy. “Problems waking up today?” I have that all the time. It’s a matter of opening both eyes at once, turning on the light and sitting up straight. You’ve got to do it in a single painless move. Pretend it has already happened before you start. If not, the land of the darkness catches you somewhere on the way, and you’re lost. What’s wrong with your shadow? Did you feed it sugar?” Shawn bashed Freddies to the ground. “Whoah! Did you see that? It’s is coming on to mine. You should teach it some manners, dear colleague!” Evan was certain that his nickname would be Savage Shadow Evan from now on.

Yet except for the difficulties in finding his material and the occasional uproar at his work spot, for example when Shawn threw shadow popcorn into the shadow of Fun Freddies coffee, entering numbers into data sheets went as usual that afternoon. He worked for a bit longer, partially to catch up, but he was also happy to avoid rush hour. Driving home was less embarrassing that way. The street lights and the bus lights created interplay of shadows, making it harder for others to see Shawns attempts to wreak havoc.

When they arrived back home and Evan was alone with his shadow, he felt the need to act. The thought of talking to his shadow again made him wonder if he had not lost it, but it was a thought he could not erase. He failed to notice the broccoli with cheese sauce when he put it in his mouth. What would he tell his shadow? Why on earth would he assume it would listen, let alone answer? After all, there had been no response the night before.

The sound and light of the TV reached as little of his conscious mind as the taste. The tension in his belly rose as he wondered where to start. Should he take a loving approach, or be stern? He found himself wording out sentences in his head. He wondered if he needed to explain his shadow about himself, or that it knew everything. It had after all been with him forever. Could it read his mind? Did it know of his current dilemma? Probably. It must be unable to speak, was his conclusion. Or perhaps only in signs, but Evan could not read signs.

His flickering shadow plucked out his hairs on the wall behind him. Sometimes it abruptly stood up, then it quickly sat down. It walked to the corner of the room and put itself there, arms around its knees. Evan hurried to the kitchen, took a glass out of the closet, filled it with water and took a sip. Then, it slipped from his hand and scattered on the floor. “What do you want?” he screamed out. The corner of the room was silent as any corner of a room.

Never again did Shawn act in any way unexpectedly. Evan sometimes wondered if he had dreamed the whole thing, and was decided not to speak of it again. His nickname had not become established on the work floor. Still, ever since that day, he looked back at Shawn frequently with quirky shivers over his spine.

Freedom

Today is Dutch liberation day. It is exactly 68 years ago that the Americans hunted the Germans of these lands. An occasion to contemplate what freedom means, if not “being able to live in peace”. It is an interesting concept about which I still think quite often. Is that typical for men?

Some say the West is free. Is that the same as saying that the people living in the West are free? If we are indeed free, then what does that mean? That we have money? That we are able to choose whatever we do with our lives? To be the navigator of our own ships? Reach our Dreams?

Okay, so one way to explain freedom, is by the extent to which we can reach our dreams. But we can go deeper. Who chooses our dreams? Say a person’s dream is to earn money. Then having a lousy job would make that person free, right? The boss would be the liberator. But often, when a person has money, he or she would like to have more. The same is true for meaning. There is a point when our dreams become our prison. At that point, freedom means letting the dream go. It means to be satisfied.

So is a satisfied citizen a free citizen? I wouldn’t always say so. I have met many people who slowly but gradually grew trapped in their satisfied lives. People on a comfortable position, whose light seemed to be dimming. They wouldn’t always admit it, but sometimes you can tell. Then again, how do you break out of satisfaction? By losing everything, perhaps?

I’ve personally always felt freest while hitchhiking. But I know that if I’d do that all the time, it would not feel the same. So I need balance. My girlfriend recently asked me what freedom means. To my own surprise, I answered quite quickly. “To not be guided by fears”. I think I’ll stick with that definition for now. Until it becomes my mask.

Jobhunt mode

The computer drains me. I feel as if I have no space, as if a force tries to suffocate my spirit. I read at least a thousand tweets per day, looking out for that one job I can genuinely write an application letter for. A year and a half since I graduated. 2 Masters, four languages. Nothing fully paid so far.

I write about a letter per day now. I have to orient first, verify if I would want to do the job and be capable of filling the position. After writing I check the letter, then send it. Same story for the CV.

One rejection after the other, even at the most basic jobs. Am I doing something wrong? Lack of experience? Lack of guts? Wrong wording? Background too diverse? Not focussed enough on the job’s content? Wrong font? Lack of picture? Face too strange? Did I do the wrong studies? Am I not serious enough? Too arrogant? Too controversial? Is it because I don’t phone them with some smart question? Not enough initiative? Was I born on the wrong spot? Am I among the first to pay the punishment on behalf of the slave driving West?

In The Netherlands, there currently is one vacancy available for every fifth unemployed. Politicians call it a catastrophe. Ours has been called a wasted generation. We are supposedly not gaining enough self-confidence for the future job market, which puts us into a downward spiral. Some suggest our lives are already over.

So I read advise from the big professionals. Read about how other people, braver than me, start their own initiatives. I talk with others in the same situation. Help them where I can. Write my blog. Do some volunteer work. Garden. Apply some more. Get more rejections. Get stressed. Change the title of my folder from “jobhunt” into “jobsearch”. Relax again. Watch seasons pass.

If you’re out there, unemployed as I am, you are not alone. We should not panic even when people give us good advise. We shouldn’t try to run faster. It will scare them away.

I also have no clue what we should do. Enjoy life, I guess. Be creative in whichever way we can. Hope some will be lucky. “Stay positive”.

I honestly don’t know.

Laziness

This post was written somewhere in June. The situation is different now. I post it anyway, because of the target of this blog: to explore and share myself and society.

Summer is never my best time to write on a regular basis. Right now, I have to sort out my life. I have no house, no real job and no bio-rythm to hold on to. I have stuff lying around in three old homes, two articles to work on, some volunteer work, and a whole bunch of ideas, goals and concerns flying around in my head. I imagine this is how a phanthom must feel.

Friends. they are a pleasure to be around, great people to hang out with, but my relationship with many friends poses pain in my heart, simply because I’m often unable to spend time with them. The same is true for my family and even for my pets. I’m scattered.

The situation I am in faces me with what I consider to be my greatest weakness. I’m lazy. Laziness is just a word, it is my way of understanding that even though I sometimes want to undertake something, I don’t, because I’m stunned. It starts with getting out of bed. Not my thing. So I wander back of into the soft and comfy world of dreams. When I finally leave that, the computer hypnotizes me. This time I really don’t like the trance, so I avoid diving in, doing what I need to do and climbing out. I stick to the surface. To my next thought. But when I arrive at that next thought, my thought is somewhere else again.

And I blame myself for that. When I reach a goal, I barely enjoy it, but when I don’t, I torture myself mentally. By writing this down, I want to solve it. But I can’t. So a part of me blames it on laziness. I might just be confusing things. Man, there is a lot of unknown.

Isaac

“You’re the man, right?” “I’m da man!” a high singing voice. I find him cool already. They serve my tea and I enter the big church hall to see a session of a man I’ve been hearing about for over two years.

The principle is simple. Isaac sits on a chair on stage. Whoever feels like it joins him on a slightly less comfy one and tells him how he or she feels. Those who come are not allowed to keep on talking, because that way the public is guided too much into their thoughts. We take a little distance from our minds together and see that all we need is inner peace.

“I’m afraid.” Silence. “I’m afraid that I will lose my family”. Isaac watches him carefully. “We sometimes say ‘I love you’, but who is it we love, then? Do you ever wonder who that is?” He directs the question to the public. The microphone goes around for people to answer. “A projection”. Says someone. She explains that if people say they love someone, in fact they follow a mental image. “Did you ever try to love yourself?” Asks Isaac. “Who is it you love, then? And who is it that loves?” It’s the joyful manner in which he speaks which makes this situation pleasant. And the topic of course. My mind’s eye shows me the fusion of clouds of consciousness into a common delight which I’d call love. I’d say that’s what ‘I love you’ means. But I don’t state that now. Why answer such questions out loud?

“I’m afraid I’ll lose my job.” People have all kinds of fears these days. Again, the careful observation. “Yes, that happens”. He turns to the public. “Did you ever try that?” To be afraid of losing your job? Why don’t we all try that for a little bit?” Everyone tries. “Did it help?” “No.” I notice how it slowly gets dark.

When the session is over, I shake his hand. “I could see you resonate”. He says. He’s right, in his presence, the people on stage moved me. I understand why my housemates like him.

A simple question

“What is it that makes you want to wake up in the morning?”. I’ve travelled 1500 km to have this chat, prepared for hours, but of all questions I least expected this one. The question may seem innocent, but to ask this to someone of my generation is below the belt.

The truth is: I do not know the answer. And the fact that I don’t makes me feel extremely insecure. Shouldn’t I know by now? In fact, I can only admit that what I have been doing these past months, maybe the past years even, was to go on and on. Following courses, hopping locations, seeing friends, heaving experiences, writing job applications, all were ways to avoid this question.

I don’t often wake up vivid and inspired. Never did. When I wake up I want to stay in bed. In fact I am sad about that. I’d like to be a person that is constantly driven by something. Like playing piano, or painting, or protecting the environment. I’d like to believe in ideals, but deep inside, I see everything as relative.

But now, I’d better come up with an answer. Quickly! “The connection with nature. And with people.” I’m not able to lay myself bare here now because I try. The rest of the interview will be nice though. Phillip and Vivien are beautiful people and I will manage to get over my instant of panic, which, by the way, came after the first impression. I will not get the job because of my lack of German. I’ll get over that quickly. But this question has been asked. It will weaken me. Block my pen if I don’t deal with it. Gently. Slowly.

Why do we expect ourselves to be so fast?