Yesterday I was moving books (it’s basically all I do these days) and listening to old bits from The Football Ramble. Maybe it was the late hour in the day, the fact that I’d been moving books for hours, or maybe it was something more, but the Dean Windass Hall of Fame entry for Eric Cantona really resonated with me. Cantona is an enigma, more complex than your average footballer. Prone to violence on the pitch, famous for kicking a Crystal Palace fan in the stands (which he still says is his best moment), he’s called for the pope to be sodomized, has proposed revolution by killing the banks, and talked about running for president in France to draw attention to social issues.
Even though I hate the club he’s most associated with, I can’t hate him. And as I go through trying to navigate this weird transition of our library, I’m reminded of the film Looking for Eric, about a stressed out Mancunian postman who hallucinates, and works out his problems with Cantona. In the film he tells Paul the postman, “I am not a man, I am Cantona.”
So I’m looking for Eric to help me sort this all out.. Reading interviews and quotes to find wisdom to make sense of my purpose. (I really feel adrift professionally… it’s sad.)
Cantona once said:
“Often there are players who have only football as a way of expressing themselves and never develop other interest. And when they no longer play football, they no longer do anything; they no longer exist, or rather they have the sensation of no longer existing.”
That goes for any profession. I think when I had the most fire, the most energy for the game (the library game), I had very little time or energy for anything else. It was consuming and I was probably a bit manic.
Then things changed. I think it’s normal really, lots of people lose that drive when they have kids, or whatever. I really started to pull back when things started going weird at my workplace. As the budget situation became iffier, I started to evaluate my life and became less emotionally invested in it all. Work, not life. It made getting laid off easier, and I think I’m probably better equipped to ride the waves of change here. Toss 1/3 of the collect? OK. Move all the books? Fine. Get it done and then go home to make dinner, watch the guinea pigs, and listen to my records. It’s nice enough, but I can’t help but feel I’m letting myself down or giving up. I was trying to think of what I’d done professionally in 2012 for the latest LibPunk Radio episode (yeah, another thing that’s suffered…), and I couldn’t think of anything. The work I’m doing now, this moment, is dull and messy. It’s not sexy. It’s not going to illicit deep and retweetable phrases. It’s not going to make people feel anything towards me as a librarian but pity. I think that’s sort of part of my ennui- I went from trying to push the lines a few years back, to barely hanging on. My library used to be a jewel, and now we’re a shell. No staff, no money, and fighting to survive. So how can we keep up with the interesting things people are bigger organizations are doing? Fact of the matter we can’t. It bugs me a little, but I know that if all I had was work it would bug me more. So in that way, thanks Eric.