Beyond the Rhetoric

 
 
 

Sunday Snippet: Albert Camus (1913-1960)

January 20th, 2013 by

Albert Camus

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

There are many things that we may value in our lives. We may value upward mobility, giving us the opportunity to do what we love and make more money, for example. That’s all well and good, but monetary success doesn’t really mean anything if you don’t have someone with whom you can share that success and happiness. Family is important and, in much the same way, so is friendship.

The quote above comes from one Albert Camus, a philosopher and journalist from the early part of the 20th century. He was born in French Algeria and became known for his existentialist perspectives on life, although he really didn’t like that label. And what he says there certainly bears some weight.

Some of us may aspire to be leaders, this is true, but we may also want to carve our own paths. We don’t necessarily want you to trail behind us, because there is a certain sense of isolation at the top. By the same accord, we still want to exercise a certain level of independence and that’s why we may not want to do exactly as you do either. That’s why, as Camus says, he’d much prefer you to “just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Indeed, this is a theme that I keep revisiting on this blog: life is about the journey and that journey is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling when you have companions for that journey. You share those experiences, you have common treasured memories, you support each other in defeat, and you celebrate your mutual successes. We all want more money and a higher standard of living, but we have to remember to appreciate everything that happens along the way. Together. We are a social species, after all.

Albert Camus authored several books on this and other subjects, if you feel like following up with some good reading.

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2 Responses to “Sunday Snippet: Albert Camus (1913-1960)”

  1. Ray Ebersole says:

    I read the quote differently Michael. To me it means be your own person, don’t follow, don’t expect others to follow you. Just be be yourself, listen to me and I will listen to you, but do what you feel you should, not what think.

    Be yourself, not what others want you to be.

    • Ray Ebersole says:

      You know, after reading the post again we are actually reading it the same. I just wrapped it in my brain slightly different than you did.

      Being a technical lead and project manager I try to make it a team concept with group decision making. While the title is nice, I can’t and don’t have all the right answers. It is wisest to to have people who will walk beside you to help you with finding the best solution or answer.

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