September 2, 2008
Essentially for my sons: Julian, Miguel & Alban. And, frankly, for me: as an attempt to put order into my ideas…
In fact, I started this blog at the request of my friend and former “brother in arms” at the European Commission, Christophe Leclercq, now CEO of EurActiv.com, the company behind blogactiv.eu.
It took me a while “to get into it” but the more I think about it, I’m excited to develop this blog to make it, in the first place, some sort of spiritual legacy for my beloved children, Julian (7 in 2008), Miguel (4) and Alban (3).
Alongside the picture books of our family, I hope this blog will one day be helpful to them. Not so much for them to “understand” who I was, what I thought while they were growing up, but mainly to stimulate their thinking should they be interested to do so.
And I do hope that Danièle and I will succeed, through their education, to make them free thinkers, questioning the world and life, adventurous in the world ideas, whatever the fields they choose to investigate.
I remember a beautiful sentence that said more or less this: “How did great men achieve great things? By walking on the shoulders of good men.”
I guess my main ambition at this stage of my life is to become a good man so that my children could also one day become great or good men, walking on my shoulders.
My ambitions have indeed changed a lot for the last 25 years. Basically, the practice of philosophy, the readings of great thinkers and daily experiences have taught me to abandon most of these ambitions (fame, glory, power, wealth, heroic deeds, social recognition,…) as they are vain and ludicrous.
As I mentioned above, my main ambition now is to become a “good man”, for my family, my friends, my colleagues, for all the people I encounter, and, plainly, for myself. By “good man”, I just mean a man in harmony, at peace with his fellow men and women and maybe even more with the infinite Nature, with the whole of reality. Nothing more. Nothing less. I want to craft my short and insignificant life as something beautiful, that makes other happy, experiencing as many times as possible the eternity of each moment. Just for the sake of it. As the sociologist Richard Sennett, one of my favorite thinkers, nicely put it, “the development of any talent involves an element of craft, of doing something well for its own sake.” My main talent is to live, or so I believe.
This does not mean I will not work hard at my job, or try to influence the society I live in, play the social game, even make decent money,… It is just that these activities and goals are definitely secondary to me, that I see them as instrumental activities subsumed to a higher ambition. An ambition which should not be called as such in fact because I more and more pursue it without stress, almost without efforts, detaching me from the past and disregarding the future, living the present as much as much as possible. While I highly appreciate the materiality of life and enjoy all my senses, I feel at the same time so detached from material possessions. “Lo que llevo, lo llevo conmigo, en este absurdo cuerpo” (“all I have, I carry it with me in this absurd body”) sings Manolo Garcia (of the fantastic Spanish pop/rock group, El Ultimo de la Fila). My ambition is to have no ambition or rather, to have no exigence, not even the one of becoming a “good man”. The difference between exigence and ambition is important here. An exigence entails a certain fear of not realizing it. It may inhibit action and cause stress. An “healthy” ambition pushes forward but recognizes that it may not be achieved and that it is not a problem either. This attitude paradoxically frees and strengthens our capacity to think and act. Note also that, while I do refer a lot to the philosophers I read, I do not consider in any way myself as a “philosopher” but, following Pierre Hadot, Marcel Conche or many others (see Favorite thinkers), I consider “philosophy as a way of life”.
So this blog’s first objective is to become a useful instrument to help me craft my life, to reflect upon it, to structure my thoughts, for my children, for myself and for anybody that could get benefits from it, maybe you who are reading me at this moment and with whom I will gladly exchange a few ideas, should you wish so (that’s also probably one of the reasons why I write this blog in English, to be accessible to more people. But also just because I like this language).
Therefore don’t expect too much from this blog. Just a few notes jotted down along my humble journey through life, unstructured, probably often contradictory and without final objective or ambition.
If I’m lucky, I’m at the middle of my life. But I could as well die tomorrow. I’m not afraid of it but looking back as I write this blog, I realize how little I have achieved in my professional life at least that will last. Perhaps my more lasting contribution will be, besides my beautiful family, these pages and the fact that I may have helped some friends to grow or to find their path, or the fact that I will have looked once in a while to the starlit sky and will have felt harmony with Nature. In any case to write this blog might help to focus, for the remaining years or days of my life, on what is important.Laurent Ledoux