So I’m finally at my last destination; Amsterdam! I’ve got 3 more nights with 3 more performances before I hop on the plane and head to home sweet home Toronto, Canada. I had a great conversation about the way of life with my host tonight. He’s originally from Romania, has worked in Los Vegas for a year and is now working in Amsterdam. He’s travelled quite a bit and opened my eyes to the luxuries and let downs of France, the Netherlands and the U.S.A.
To make a long story short, he would live in France if only he was fluent in French. Sadly, he’s right when he says that there is no hope for a life in France if you do not speak french. I myself have noticed that the service industry here in Europe is far slower than what I’m used to in the United States or Canada. Restaurants in particular are very slow over here… at times it takes twice as long to get your bill than it takes to place your order and finish eating. For some strange reason, restaurants are in no rush to throw you out once you’ve requested your bill, whereas back home some of them even have a time limit for your stay.
On the brither side of things, Europe is far more social with their health care and their holidays. Little did I know that in France, everyone is obliged to take 3 weeks off in August! Most get a total of 45 days off per year and work no more than 36 hours per week. Some argue that this creates more jobs via work sharing and my host laughs at us Canadians for being such workaholics (yes, I’m guilty as charged, even as an entrepreneur :p)
He says that with his work experience and education he could easily move to Canada but he wouldn’t dare. His one and only reason is holidays. He thinks it’s a crime to have a law that limits salary workers to 10 days of holidays or even force them to work weekends. I tend to agree… some of us work so much and earn a great salary but find no time to spend it. Some even die rich without ever leaving the city… how sad is that? I think it’s safe to say that I have a new perspective on my work ethic… I have missed out on so much of my youth because I’ve been so hard on myself in regards to work, i.e. not earning enough, not accomplishing enough, etc.
After hearing his story about a man he met in the United States who worked more than 40 hours a week, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 60. He had never traveled outside his home town, never seen his kids growing up, never learned another language, never seen a sandy beach, never tasted authentic cuisine from the other side of the world. He had only 6 months to make up for 60 years isolated in the confines of the place where he was born. He wrote a bucket list and took off to Europe for 6 months where he hoped to make up for 60 years… to spend all his life savings and die poor.
I think I’d rather die poor and live a life full of travel, love, music and art than die rich and not experience anything. Nonetheless, I do appreciate the work ethic and discipline of Canadians, we just need to learn when it’s time to turn it off and remember to work in order to live… not live in order to work. Here’s to a new approach to a better life; a life worth living.