A thought occurred to me earlier in the week: You can not get rid of disgruntled workers.
This could be taken two ways. The first, perhaps more obvious, is that no matter what employees come and go from a workplace, you will always have disgruntled workers. That is, there will always be people who are unhappy with the work and/or the workplace. It almost seems part of human nature to be constantly discontent at something (well, for some people, anyway).
As a colleague of mine once said, everyone wants the money, but no one wants to do the work. (He was exaggerating and oversimplifying, of course.)
Last week I finished reading The Outsider by Albert Camus. It’s quite a short novel (technically a novella?) but it took me a while to finish because I was reading it only occasionally when taking a break from War and Peace, or when I needed to take a book with me somewhere, and obviously W&P is too big to lug around (and I never got around to getting an e-book version of it).
I don’t often go for short books like this one — possibly because when I was a kid and progressed to longer chapter books, I formed in my mind the notion of the “ideal” size of a book, and constantly wanted to flex my reading muscles by tackling longer and longer novels. Possibly also I’ve had some bad experiences with novellas that left me feeling like it was a bit pointless. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t enjoy Catcher in the Rye at all, and I only have a vague memory of reading other novellas because I guess they just weren’t all that memorable.
But I’ve had The Outsider recommended to me a few times before, so I had to give it a go. Having finished it, I completely understand why people think this is the kind of story that I would like — it’s very thought-provoking, and is written in a very unique way, unlike anything else I’d read before.
It’s been a bit of an odd day. I was going to write about something quite different, but the way the day has turned out has got me feeling like writing about it.
About a month ago, I got a flat tyre on my bike. It had happened before, and DL helped me replace the inner tube, and it was all good for several rides before it went flat again. It was a bit unusual because I had cycled in to work with no problems. I locked my bike up in the allocated cage in the car park, and didn’t notice anything amiss. Yet, when I returned to my bike later that day, the front tyre was completely flat, and couldn’t be inflated.
Annoying, yes, but not a major problem. I caught the train home that day, and figured I could replace the inner tube again — perhaps there was a tiny rock or bit of glass lodged inside the rim, and it would be a simple fix. However, week-end after week-end passed, and it was either raining (I don’t have enough space in the garage to do work on the bike inside), or I was too busy/tired (or both). So I put it off, and ignored it, and thought about it, but didn’t do anything.
This week I got up to Volume III, Part II in War and Peace, and at the start of this section, Tolstoy enters into a bit of philosophising — or I should say re-enters, as he sort of went over this in an earlier section. In this part of the novel, Napoleon is invading Russia. His army is far superior to that of the Russians, which appears to be in comparative disarray as they are lacking a strong leader.
Tolstoy posits that everyone involved in that war believed they were acting for themselves, according to their own will, but, in reality, they were all “involuntary instruments of history”. In an earlier part of the novel (I forget where, and the book is much too big to go searching for this one particular chapter), Tolstoy wrote something about the great cascade of events that must take place for a war to start, and claims that it cannot be pinned on any one event or person.
If I remember correctly, the main gist of it was that no matter who insults who, or who wants to go conquesting where, there cannot be a war if great masses of people don’t enlist to become soldiers, and there is a great deal that must happen to lead to that.
Now and then, when I meet new people, and talk to them for a while, I am reminded of someone I already know. This doesn’t happen with every new person I meet, but I’ve been noticing it happening more and more. I’m not sure if this is just because I’ve already met enough people that everyone has some sort of similarity to someone else, or because I’m just taking more notice of small details in how people communicate — both their speech and body language.
In general, it’s not usually (or ever?) an exact match between the new person and the person I already know. It’s more of a vague impression that this person acts similarly to the other person in some way. It could be the slightest thing — difficult to pinpoint and describe — but it is enough to make me think of someone else.
It might be as simple as their inflection or tone of voice when they talk about something in particular. It could be an air of confidence or nervousness or some other emotion in their words and the way they carry themselves. Perhaps it’s even just the way they tilt their head or move their hands when they speak.
Recently I’ve had a certain passage from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations circulating around in my mind. As with other thoughts that float around in my head, I thought I’d record it here on my blog. I think it’s worth sharing too.
Do not imagine that, if something is hard for you to achieve, it is therefore impossible for any man: but rather consider anything that is humanly possible and appropriate to lie within your own reach too.
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 6, Chapter 19)
Perhaps a good reminder in these uncertain and ever-changing times.
Perhaps, also, a good reminder for me as I continue to try to learn how to play the piano!
I wonder what prompted Marcus Aurelius to record this particular meditation. I wonder what could have possibly put self-doubt in the mind of a Roman emperor; or maybe it was just pre-emptive, anticipating the mind’s natural tendency to recoil from difficult and laborious endeavours.
Anyway, I don’t think the passage needs much more explanation, elaboration or deconstruction. Just something to remember in hard times.