Column | Farewell love and duty
Everybody get up. Leaves. Say goodbye. You don’t notice it at first, but when you start paying attention, you see it everywhere. From the outside, nothing seems to be wrong, the hard-working officer is having a good time, setting processes in motion, getting things done, and then suddenly, boom boom, everything stops.
When the Scottish Prime Minister announces his departure unexpectedly, she says the decision comes from duty and love. Popularity at half mast, dream of Scottish independence shattered: the Prime Minister is at an impasse. She chooses eggs for her money. “In my head and in my heart, I know the time has come.” The announcement is completely abrupt and surprising, write the newspapers.
The tank is empty, confides shortly before the New Zealand Prime Minister, when she appears too suddenly to throw in the towel. “I know what this job demands and I just don’t have enough in the tank to handle it.” The Scottish Prime Minister then repeats it after her. This job, “the best job in the world”, demands too much energy as politics becomes more and more tumultuous and rough. Really, it’s better for the country if the two leaders decide to stop.
There’s something about the learning curve, says economist Barbara Baarsma when she unexpectedly leaves Rabobank, where she ran the sustainable Rabo Carbon Bank project. On the news site nu.nl I read articles about an internal statement, which belongs to him DF, in which Baarsma says his learning curve leveled off after two years. “It’s time for me to take on a new challenge,” she wrote.
Gert-Jan Segers of the ChristenUnie leaves politics. “I’ve worked in politics with my heart and my soul, but it’s not my life,” he says NRC. And this power should not become a habit. That leadership is temporary, that you have to have someone ready to take over, that it feels complete, that it’s over. That the mission is more important than the people who carry it out. It should not become routine. He is going to write a novel.
Work shouldn’t become a routine, writing shouldn’t be a trick, a habit
Being an alderman does not suit her as well as she thought, says Amsterdam alderman Shula Rijxman, and that can of course happen, although she notices it in time. Deputy Roy de Witte van Overijssel is also leaving politics. Work is high level sport. It’s OK 24/7 Through. You have to give 110%. It`s all in or all out. “My son said, ‘Dad, you’re never here.'”
Well, it’s the announcement of my departure and of course I also owe the Dutch an explanation. Is the tank empty? Is the learning curve flattening? Did I have to leave because the editors couldn’t stand my swearing and rantings anymore? You’re giving up your power, people I meet say, and they’re already half turning away from me, now that I’m no longer their gateway to the mighty columns of this mighty newspaper. What got into me?
Let me start with the best sport excuse, based on the baker my grandmother used to buy her bread from in Groningen. This baker happened to be out of dough for his usual bread one day, so he baked it from the dough he had made for the buns. A week later, my grandmother asked me about last week’s bread: it had been so good that she would like to have some more. “Yes,” exclaimed the baker indignantly. ” It will hurt. It was bread dough.
Now that I’m gone, I get floods of mail from newspaper readers who think something like this shouldn’t be done. For more than twenty years, they have read my columns, they adapt their moods to them, they test their beliefs against them, they name their children after me. There was always an empty chair at their table, just in case I passed by. I can’t stop at all, they want more. “Yes, that must be true,” I shout indignantly. You can want anything, but such a newspaper column is brioche dough, and the baker can’t go on.
Then the usual statement of new challenge. I am now exactly halfway through my life. At this pivotal point, I realize like all those other hard-working public servants that work should not become a routine, writing is not a trick and power is not a habit. The second half of life is coming: isn’t that what the officials mean by “new challenge”?
Spring is coming, something new is starting, you can feel it in the air, you can already see the light getting brighter in the distance. I have to go. I’m not dead yet, I’m not gone yet, I’m at a door. Anyway, so far the official press release: something with duty and love. And the time has come. That’s pretty much how a statement says goodbye out of love and duty.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on February 25, 2023
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