They Lied to Him and He Even Liked It…


Simon (the name has been obviously changed to protect those who are better off being anonymous) is an old friend. Not the best of friends. Not even a very good friend, but someone who has always managed to keep up the challenging pace and stay in touch without being tactless about it. For whatever this may be worth, we have been hanging out together and listening to each other’s stories, fables, truths and lies at times, as friends do, for sixteen years now.


Simon is a living cliché. Very straight. Very good-looking. Very much late 30’s. Very middle class. Very divorced with children. Very much in trouble over his mounting consumer debt; and soon to be unemployed.


The sense of impending doom started making itself clearly felt last July. The things were getting from bad to worse; the kids needed even more cash to keep up with their schoolmates and he was getting deeper and deeper into an expensive overdraft /credit card loan, since he, too, had to keep up with someone and possessed a deeply rooted sense of entitlement. (After all, he did everything right. Just as they always said you should.) He delicately broached the subject to me asking for advice and laying out his own plan of action as we were having drinks in town one evening last summer.


He finally understood the gravity of his situation. He’d have to go through at least two years if not more of serious and well-paid work as opposed to the meagerly paid but very comfortable pen-pushing he has been meekly exercising ever since. That new job featuring the New Simon would pay back his debt and give him a small, if solid base to start anew.


After all the unnecessary delays and some noteworthy procrastination on his part, he got his act together, made it to a personal interview this fall, and was invited to join a paid training program in early winter. On the second day of his training, he texted, he was getting out of it. The new job was not going to make him happy. No, he really did not care for it.


You can be friends with Simon (and his kind), only if you master the art of shrugging with your shoulders at the right time and for as many times as needed. If this were chess, I’d be beating the late Bobby Fischer before breakfast every day.


I stopped short of reminding him that this has been his third failed attempt in a row to stop his life from unraveling before his (and, by default, my eyes) in last six years. We met for both the coffees and his new edition of an old, sad, fairy tale.


‘Nope. He was not going to work, unless that work made him happy. He has to love what he does; otherwise, he won’t do it.’



Looking back, Simon was victimized as a school kid by the then-pervading ‘method’ of teaching the kids through and by the means of play. Life was going to be that proverbial rose garden in a late and entirely uncalled outburst of Victorian optimism; and we should be all playing in it, enjoying our sandboxes; waltzing through the life and watching the Star Track for the light entertainment.


You only learned what, if and when you really felt like doing so.


Eminently, if happily underequipped to tackle the real issues ahead of him, Simon focused all of his energy on designing a stress-free, modest  and easy career ahead of him. He has been very successful, indeed. After all, this was the only modus operandi he has been ever familiar with.


Waltzing through the life in the proverbial rose garden of his own making soon started to show many of its downsides. His career, for the wont of a better word, was going nowhere. His real income was shrinking alarmingly and his debts were climbing up steadily.  There was an obvious need for action. Being determined to make it as easy on himself as possible, he promptly subscribed to the prevailing ideology of ‘having to love what you do’. Well, he did not really love anything about doing it in particular, but the job at hand was easy, stress-free, and paid most of the bills. Just like he used to like ‘the learn-through-play concept’, which sadly allowed him to learn precious very little in the process, he now fell in love with the ‘do-it-only-if-you-really-like-it-theme’.


Effectively, he maneuvered himself into the corner with all the other people who were doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Their optimism was incurable but fortunately, not too contagious.


The notion of necessarily mortgaging both your professional career and the source of your wherewithal to an ideology of ‘love’ remains one the most monumental and dangerous fallacies of our times. If you love, enjoy and cherish (or simply believe that you do) whatever you professionally do, count your blessings and enjoy them while they last.


All of the others work because they really have to. Admitting to this basic truth is probably the single most empowering experience you can have in the present or any other working environment, for that matter.


If given a choice between doing what I do for an enviable annual income, with stress levels that would easily kill a herd of African elephants in a wink and working hours that are never counted, on endless days that have no names, or partying with a $1,000.00 bottle of champagne in his hand onboard his $120 Mio. yacht as one of my big shareholders and Board members does, trust me; I’d leave the grind behind me with an undiminished sense of relief and rather worry about the better vintage, if there is anything I’d really like to worry about at all.


In the end, Simon is a victim of both a completely failed and very skewed ideology, and his own strict adherence to invariably taking the path of least resistance.


~ by silverrrcloud on January 6, 2009.

One Response to “They Lied to Him and He Even Liked It…”

  1. […] wrote about Simon and his emerging career problems earlier this […]

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