Midweek muses…midlife crises?

Coming back from a vacation spent travelling is always fraught with disappointment: however long, the holiday invariably feels like an all too brief infusion of real life into what otherwise can only be described as existence. It’s only on vacation, when you do some much, see so much, cover so much ground and feel so many feelings in one day, that you realise just how much of your life goes wasted during the work-week. And, upon realising this, depression invariably sets in…

Albert Camus captured the feeling perfectly and expressed it much better than I could possibly do it more than 70 years ago…“ Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm – this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement.”

It is summer vacation time. The summer finally feels like summer, the Copenhagen office is empty, my Parisian colleagues are getting ready for les grande vacances… Everyone wants to get away…no-one feels like working anymore. At the office, we had a chat this afternoon on whether we should all take a collective sabbatical and do what our hearts dictate rather than what conscience and contractual agreements make us do…One of my friends from North America wrote bemusing the meaning of life. Are these pre-vacation blues or are we all heading for some sort of midlife crisis?

I’ve already had mine – fast and furious and early…more like a third-of-life crisis, really. I woke up one day to realise that what makes us good in school makes us suckers in real life, and that the only thing you need to prove in this life is that you at least tried to experience and live it fully, and, perhaps, even be happy sometimes. How? Depends. Most people go traditional and procreate so that they can then project all their hopes and unspoken regrets onto the new progenitor. Some people travel (me!), some paint, some write, and most people dream a little daring and unlikely dream that keeps them going by providing the illusion of a possible escape….

Today at work we were talking about this: I want to write a book, a colleague wants to write a crime novel, another dreams of being a theatre costume designer while yet another dreams of being a TGV train driver. We all have far better paying jobs, enviable job titles and apparent “career success”… We’re all quite young, still in our 30s….So why are we all dreaming of a second career?
In the end, we all agreed that we just want a break, a sabbatical of some sort, the opportunity to pursue something easier, more creative, more meaningful according to each person’s sensibilities. Which got me thinking, why don’t companies allow this? In the same way that academics (in the US, at least), can take 6 months every 6 years to pursue their individual research interests, why can’t we, in the corporate world, just take a break to pursue our own life dreams, once in a while? If I ever get to have my own company, I will definitely offer the sabbatical option…and then proceed to be the first employee to take one, myself!!!

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