|Simon about to go on stage at EY, with a poster |
quote above him asking 'why do uncertain
times need the certainty of purpose?'
It's been quite a start to the year. Various projects were postponed from the end of 2018 and like a concertina, they bunched up into the start of 2019. That meant a lot of travel, including two trips to Berlin, one to Munich, then to Zurich, one to Australia and one to the USA all before April. A trip to a very cold Berlin, in January was for pleasure as was the long trip 'down under', but the remainder have been work.
I love travel and working abroad. You can read how much in a blog from last year. Indeed, I've recently written a chapter for a forthcoming book about international consultancy and diversity with Middlesex University. However, on the final trip when I was in the USA I got what I only can describe as travellers’ blues. I've talked about it on stage at a few conferences subsequently with Clifford Chance, PwC and the International Underwriters Association. I had a more in-depth two way conversation with Phil Friend on our podcast about it too. The blues lasted 48 hours. I think tiredness, loneliness, apprehension, jet lag and missing home were all instrumental. It reminded me of the maxim, 'be careful of what you wish for'. As a 25 year old, to travel and work was my dream and here I was, not enjoying it. My solutions were spontaneous - numerous WhatsApp messages to understanding friends in the UK, changing my hotel room to a brighter, larger one and a little talk to myself in the mirror (I really did do this) asking 'What's up?' and telling myself 'It'll be ok'.
That I am now reading a book about the meaning of life might well be connected. I'm throughly enjoying 'Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it' by Daniel Klein. As a youngster and when a philosophy student, Klein used to jot down short phrases from philosophers and great thinkers. He believed his specially curated quotes had inherent wisdom, a life understanding or some wit. Now in his 70s he is re-visiting them and asking if they still are valid and, inevitably, did he live his life well? He has asked more than once whether there should have been more hedonism in his life. Can you have so much joy that it becomes redundant? Or did he expect too much happiness, thereby resigning himself to disappointment?
It's an accessible philosophy book, like a non-preachy self-help book, full of reflections and considered thought. It's funny, human and relatable. I have laughed a few times, I even dropped the book, gasped and put my hand on my forehead after reading one line.* I now look forward to picking the book up at bedtime. It is packed full of quotable lines, not surprising as Klein is all about quoting great thinkers. Here's one, about the value of thinking and reason, and how lucky we are as humans to be able to do this.
|Simon speaking at the PwC Dawn |
Network in May 2019
[Bertrand Russell] wrote, “The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. . . . [But Philosophy] keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.”
The next six months are shaping up well. More work travel, yes, and I think I'm better prepared this time. I even have a new toiletry bag which will make all the difference. **
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* The sentence that made me gasp and pause for thought? It seems so obvious, so simple now but I've missed it up until this point in my life. Klein says 'When Camus wrote Youthful Writings, "You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life," he was suggesting...the meaning of life is not something we look for, it is something we create."
** It might help. Being with more of my familiar items and extra space for treats sounds sensible to me. And necessitates a better toiletry bag.
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