bullshit jobs

On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes’ promised utopia – still being eagerly awaited in the ‘60s – never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn’t figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we’ve collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment’s reflection shows it can’t really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the ‘20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be).

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done – at least, there’s only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there’s endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it’s all that anyone really does.

I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: “who are you to say what jobs are really ‘necessary’? What’s necessary anyway? You’re an anthropology professor, what’s the ‘need’ for that?” (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn’t seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I’d heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he’d lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, “taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.” Now he’s a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a corporate lawyer who didn’t think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told “but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?”

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.

Reposted from Strikemag.org because this topic is too important not to spread:)
Source: On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber.

Written by: David Graeber. He is a Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. His most recent book, The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, is published by Spiegel & Grau.

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What’s important?

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!”

And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”
—IAIN THOMAS”

Creating a life that reflects your values

Over the course of the last few years I have learned that staying true to your heart is difficult (if not almost impossible at times). I have also learned that it is completely worth it and very important. Because by staying true to your heart you are creating a life that reflects your values. You are staying true to who you are. And this is not only fulfilling but also highly necessary. In doing so, you will not only make this world a little bit better (your heart will never ever tell you to do something that is bad for this world) but you will also inspire others to do the same!

While writing and thinking about this topic I found this beautiful and inspiring cartoon on zenpncils.com titled exactly ‘Creating a life that reflects your values’ and wanted to share it here. Enjoy and follow your heart!

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Confession of an ashamed marketer: I was wrong

happiness is here and now

Marketing and Economics used to be everything I knew that was true about this world. I was, and still am, a well-trained and high-skilled marketer. During the first years of my career I marketed a wide range of things: massage sticks for athletes, chemical coating for sewer pipes, expensive fashion for kids, a new way of mobile payments and everything in between. Finding smart and new ways for people to buy more and faster at the highest possible price was what I loved to do. I was so focussed on doing this, that I had no idea what the implications were of my individual actions.

I remember vividly that one day my mother asked me: ‘Steven, if you are only focussed on selling more than the competition, when and where will this ever stop?’. It took me only a second to reply that I did not know what she was talking about. What could she possibly mean? The whole thing that keeps our economy growing and our level of wealth going up is that people keep buying, right? I basically ignored her remark and went on doing what I did best for another two years or so: selling great products. Even when I took the picture that I used for this blog post during the Occupy movement in Amsterdam I could not understand the things that were on all those signs right in front of me. I was still proud that I was making the world a better place by keeping the economy going and showing people that buying the things I knew they needed would result in happier lives for everybody.

And then…

…somewhere in 2012 I realised that I was participating actively and enthusiastically in a very strange story. A story that I believed in with everything I had. A story that could actually be resulting in the exact opposite of what I was striving for: the story that is our modern monetary economy. I discovered that it is a story where everybody is being persuaded by people like me to spent money they don’t have on things they don’t need to create impressions that don’t last on people they don’t care about with products that are destroying and trashing our planet. All in order to keep the economy going.

Once I was able to see the direction where this story was taking us I decided to change my life. I was able to acknowledge that my mother (and many other people) had been right all along and make the confession that I had been wrong. Because everything that I had believed in and that I thought I was, was so deeply rooted in my old belief system, it took (and is taking) a lot of effort to start seeing the world with new eyes. But confessing this has helped me to take a different perspective and suddenly I could see things very clearly and they profoundly changed the way I look at life, business, our world and my role in it. I realised four very important things:

1. The economy is not a thing
2. All money is created out of debt
3. We live on a finite planet
4. Happiness doesn’t come from stuff

1. The economy is not a thing
The economy is not real, we created it! This was one of the discoveries that shocked me the most. We talk about it, fear it and worship it like it is a real, living thing. But it is not! The economy is a human invention and we set the rules by which it operates. All the problems we are now facing economically are man made but they are not real. The planet is still filled with food, water and air. The system we designed makes us think otherwise but it is not true! It has taken a form and complexity over time that makes it almost impossible to manage but is still a human invention. And this invention served us for a very long time but it does not anymore! And because it is our invention, we can and (we should) change it. It is time start asking questions like: what is an economy actually for? Does it’s current for still serve us? When is it enough?

“Economies of scale demands that we don’t share, and that we all have one of everything.. Do we really need one of everything?” Mark Boyle

Check this short video on this topic:

2. All money is created out of debt
Every dollar, euro, yen or peso that circulates on this planet was created out of debt. Somebody had to borrow it from a bank and sign off on paying back this loan with a certain amount of interest. And because all money is created with a certain amount of required interest, this debt can never be repaid. The interest was simply never created. The amount of debt that has to be repaid will always be higher than the amount of money that is in circulation. This means that everybody (governments, companies, private people) is basically enslaved by banks to pay of a debt that can never by fully repaid. This is the reason why we go to jobs we don’t like, fight wars we don’t want and can never be satisfied with what we have right now.

“Money, in itself not feeding, sheltering, nor loving us – has become more meaningful, more valued and more sacred in our lives than trees” Mark Boyle

Pretty hard to believe right? This video explains more in depth about how money is created and what is doing to us because of this:

3. We live on a finite planet
We are going to be nine billion people soon, if we keep growing our ‘economies’ at the rate we currently do (and all the ministers of economic affairs, managers of banks and big corporates want us to), we will burn down our system completely. You simply cannot grow infinitely on a finite planet. If we want to continue and maintain our current living standards on this planet, we already need one and a half Earths to support all our needs (let alone another Earth to dump all our waste). We have reached a tipping point in our development as a species on this planet. After more or less 10.000 years on Earth we have failed to establish an equilibrium we need to survive and if we are not going to do so rapidly, our existence here on Earth might end sooner than we all want it to. Not in a couple hundreds of years but in our lifetimes. We are approaching the point where Thomas Salk is turning out to be right when he said:

“if all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish”.

Tim Jackson wrote a great book on this topic: Prosperity without Growth. This is a presentation by him:

4. Happiness does not come from stuff, it comes from within, it is here and now
How often do you find yourself present in the current moment? Engaged in actively enjoying what is NOW, not what was or what will be, but what IS right now? Because of people like me, we are always longing for something that lies in the future to bring us happiness: new shoes, a new job, a new car, whatever. We forget to be present and realise that this moment, right now, will never ever come back. It will quickly dissolve to be the past and nothing but a memory. But life is now. It is not in the future, not in the past. It is is now. The beautiful, problem-less and peaceful now. There is no stuff involved in happiness, all it requires is to be present.

“The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is” Eckhart Tole

Now what?
So where does all of this leave me? Well, I am still the well-trained and high-skilled marketer that I used to be. Only the angle that I am taking now is a different one. No longer am I involved in persuading people to buy stuff they don’t actually need and make them long for long term happiness. I have decided to start focussing on telling a different story. A story where people will understand that money and our economy are not real and that everyone of us is empowered from within and that our every day decisions determine what this world will look like. We are in control. I believe that as humanity we are awakening to to the simple concept that ‘more for me is less for you’ and that a ‘gift based economy’ is possible.

Although I am still far from reaching these goals I am trying through big and small endeavours to make my way towards this new reality. Working Wonderfully is helping people to start living and working on their own terms, see money for what it really is and create more meaningful lives for themselves and those around them. Digital Nomadz is giving me the perspective, consciousness and worldview to understand the size and complexity of all the problems we are facing as humanity and this blog gives me the chance to share my personal thoughts and challenges with the world and converse directly with you:)

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your response to my confession.

 

why-do-my-eyes-hurt

Why do my eyes hurt?

About a year ago a fellow traveller I met in Mexico gave me the book ‘Ismael, an adventure of the mind and spirit‘. A beautiful book that made a huge impact on me. It was the start of a new personal journey. At the age of thirty I was about to rediscover the world and look at it through a new pair of eyes and they started hurting. It was (and is) a journey where almost everything I believed was challenged, questioned and most of it swept away. It made me feel things I had never felt before in my life. There were times when I felt so sad, alone, powerless and disconnected from almost everybody that I love, I didn’t know what to do with it. The things I saw and discovered made my eyes hurt so much. Our disconnectedness with each other, with nature. Our definitions of success and security. Our separation and individualism. And above all our focus on money and material wealth. I could only see the rotting part of this ‘peak’ in our evolution and was unable to see any signals of hope whatsoever.

It turns out that the mantra I have been using over the last few years still stands: ‘we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are’. I was surrounding myself with too much negative literature and other external influences. Too many negative movies. Too many negative conversations.  And all of this negativity this took it’s toll on me. It took me a while to turn all this negativity around and see the beauty again in things.

Fortunately the outcome of this journey is a very beautiful one. I believe there is hope and a better world will come. People are waking up all around me and I no longer feel alone, powerless or disconnected. In fact, I feel more connected, hopeful and empowered than I have ever felt. The amount of initiatives to grow humankind out of childhood and into adulthood is so big I can’t keep up with it. Initiatives like GEEFeconomieFreeskool and Gelukskunde in the Netherlands, Streetbank in the UK, the Gift Economy and the Moneyless Manifesto worldwide are so simple, anyone can relate to them. If you don’t know what I am talking about, please take a moment to watch this movie because it profoundly changed me and the way I see the world and made my eyes stop hurting and start filling them with fire once again:

Sometimes I want..

I want people to see the world I see
But they don’t

I want them to wake up and open their eyes
But they are sound asleep

I want to scream
But that won’t get my message across

I want to cry
But lonely tears never solved anything

I want to fight
But I am not a violent man

I want to run
But I am not a coward

I want to make a stand
But I feel all alone

I want things to change right now
But change happens over time

I want..

Why more is actually less (or less is more)

lessismore

“We have bigger houses but smaller families;

more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense;

more knowledge but less judgment;

more experts, but more problems

“more medicines but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,

but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.

We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,

But have less real communication;

We have become long on quantity,

but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;

Tall men but short characters;

Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window

But nothing in the room.”

- Author unknown

A new story of the people (video)

After watching this beautiful video I bought the book ‘Sacred Economics‘ by Charles Eisenstein. It is refreshing and inspiring view on our economy and monetary system. It actually provides some hands on solution an leaves room for hope! Enjoy the movie and the book and let me know what you think!

Why I don’t vote

About three months ago Russel Brand appeared in this great interview with Jeremy Paxman. Russell explains in a very clear way why he does not vote and I couldn’t agree more. I have had some vivid discussions after posting this movie on Facebook and I decided to repost it on my blog with some of the other arguments that evolved from it. Let’s first watch Russel on why he doesn’t vote:

So, this is exactly why I also don’t vote.. Our current political systems are solving the wrong problems, for the wrong people for the wrong reasons.. It looks like our only choice is left or right but there is a third: NEITHER!

Voting (also when voting neutral) in my opinion shows you still believe in the system and you disagree with the current parties. Not voting shows you have realized it is just one big show that has done almost nothing for you, the economy or the planet. For some more examples on this topic, see these two movies: Politics is big business and on TED We the People and the Republic we must reclaim

Coming from a big corporate I have seen that shareholders determine the faith and strategy of a company, not employees or governments. Our plans can be as beautiful, sustainable and progressive as we wanted them to be, at the end of the day, profit is all that matters to shareholders and nothing else. As long as this system is kept alive, we can vote all we want, but it is not going to change a thing. Curious to learn more about how this system works? Make sure to watch this TED talk Who controls the world? and ‘The Corporation‘? 

If the current system doesn’t work, now what? Unfortunately this problem is not one that can be tackled that easily. I do see however numerous initiatives where people are gathering for the right reasons (fair distribution of wealth and stop harming the planet). One of them is called New Earth Project, they are far from there yet, but at least they are trying. And instead of criticizing others I believe we should focus on creating this alternative together instead of someone trying to come up with the magic formula. A true source of inspiration for me is the movie I AM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYtfnONazTU

You too have the power to decide if those in power should remain, that’s how democracy works. And the current way is not working. Not for the people, the economy nor the planet. We have to start to live more consciously, to love and to contribute to this beautiful world in order to make it sane and whole again.

What do you think of all this?? Let me know!

Question for 2014: Where do your talents fit in to make a better world?

First of all: Happy New Year!! Since this is a time for looking ahead at the year to come, I would like to ask you one simple question: How are you going to use your talents to make this a better world?

As a source of inspiration for my own changes for 2014 I am using various movies and books . The movie ‘I Am‘ in particular inspired me so much that I am sharing parts of this movie in these blogposts. Please take a look at the short scene below and let me know where your talents fit in to make the world a little better!

2014: Make it count!

 

‘The Economy’ is not a thing, is it?

We are treating money, the stock market and the economy like they are living things. Living things we cannot control. But somewhere along this path we have forgotten that WE actually created this entire system. And it is not working.

Money is doing more bad than good and stock markets, share holders and economic growth are taking the focus of the real problem at hand: we have invented something that is not working as it was supposed to! And therefor I think we are asking the wrong questions trying to solve the current economic problems. These problems cannot and will not be solved while we are still thinking ‘the economy’ is something real like a tree or the ocean. The economy is a mathematical model that was once designed to help us distribute wealth and stimulate fair trade but it is not doing a very good job.

Once you realize that without the economy the earth will keep spinning, food will keep growing (probably even better) and water will keep flowing (probably even cleaner) then and only then can we can start working towards a real solution.

I borrowed a part of the beautiful movie I Am that shows where I am coming from and what I am aiming at, what do you think?

The song of the open road

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Our travel companion on the open road

I just found a great poem by Walt Whitman called ‘Song of the open road’. It spoke straight to my travellers heart so I am sharing some quotes from the poem with you here:

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.

The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”

— WALT WHITMAN, “SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD”

Why I love running

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It can be six in the morning or it can be two at night. It can be only four hundred meters or forty-two kilometers and a little bit. It can be in combination with swimming and cycling or it can be trying to catch a train. For as long as I can remember I have been in love with running. This ultimate feeling of putting your shoes on and just going for it!

Ever since the soccer coach kicked me off the soccer team when I was six with the message: ‘that kid only kicks the ball really hard and than starts chasing it’ I have been running. Running with friends or without. Running towards the finish line or sometimes running away from it. Running for the national relay team or organizing a marathon of my own. I just have to run.

Running is my meditation. Many people tell me one cannot meditate while running but this is not true. When I am running all my problems go away. I can deal with anything. My breathing is controlled. My thoughts start to flow freely and after a few minutes my mind is in its most relaxed state. I feel connected to myself, the world around me and everything in it.

Running keeps both my mind and body in shape. It keeps my mind sharp and my body fit. To feel these two connecting by one single activity is just amazing. It is addictive. It is freeing a source of energy I have never experienced coming from something else. After a good morning run I love to start the day and I keep that energy throughout the day.

Running makes me feel like a child again. It reminds me that, no matter what you want to achieve in life, it all starts with that first step. Take that first step. Get your body moving and the rest comes naturally. This ensures me that When I am running I am moving towards my next goal in life, whatever that may be. It keeps me confident, focussed and energized.

When running I am whole.