PEOPLE: The Everlasting magic

Arnaud Mathieu
I'm a music producer turned (happy) office worker. I want to help creators be in the Now and enjoy the magic of people... everything I forgot to do during my Music Biz years.

8 January 2018  |  6 minute read

Sometimes, I feel like I'm immune to Magic.

Crazy, impossible stuff turns reality every day and, if I notice it at all, I just shrug and continue my day as if it's completely normal.

I can learn anything any time without going anywhere for free; I can have any (good) project funded by strangers; there are cars that don't need gas, nor drivers and skateboards that don't need pushing. Hell, I can print OBJECTS OUT OF THIN AIR, isn't it magic enough? Yet it takes me as little as a coffee break to become aware of it, integrate the news, joke about it... and forget that it is indeed Magic.

But you know what never ceases to feel amazingly out of this world? People. Human interaction. Exchange & communication. Every. Time.

The other day, I'm filling the trunk of my car (which needs gas and a driver) when I see a guy walking toward me while talking angrily to himself. My instinct kicks in and I prepare myself for some sort of confrontation. My dog instinct kicks in and he runs toward the stranger... to play with him. That's when I watch the 30-something drunkard turn into a happy little boy who likes dogs. His anger is gone, he's smiling, petting Artika & having a good time. After a moment (I'm still putting Xmas presents in my trunk), he looks at me and tells me "Mate hezkeho pejska!" (Czech for "You have a nice dog"). I thank him and wish Merry Christmas. He says something like 'You too, Bro" and leaves.

Going from battle-mode to brotherhood in such a short time feels amazing, my head is almost spinning and I'm all pumped up... but the REAL magic is that Human interaction still has this effect on me after 33 years. I'm pretty sure that similar stories will warm my heart when I'm 64.

How to prepare a magic 2018? Put people and good human interaction at the core of your year. Here are 3 methods I had good results with and plan to do more of.

I. Shoes swapping

I have this colleague who's a complete douchebag.
He probably stole some company equipment, he's not taking responsibility for his failures, he writes angry e-mails (where he spells 'separate', 'seperate') and he's generally a dick (maybe you have the same in your office).

I can blame him (as I just did), continue with this "he's such a douchebag" story and use it to make myself shine in comparison. Most colleagues would agree with me and we'd bond over our mutual dislike of this guy (let's call him Bob)... Or I can remember Wendy Mass' wise words and put myself in his shoes.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

- Wendy Mass.  

Bob might have family problems, health issues or past trauma and maybe his way of dealing with this is... well being a douchebag. Actually, I can even remember a few occurrences where he actually did or said something nice. Nobody's a pure monster but we're all people.

Still, he often acts as a douche and it's hard to empathize. 

My technic is therefore to:

  • picture Bob's inner child (a scared little boy in a fat adult body) which helps me feeling sorry for him; 
  • picture my Son, how he does stupid stuff when he's angry and how I can pardon and deal with it calmly thanks to Love;
  • put the 2 pictures next to each other.

Then, it's pretty clear that Bob's douchebagness is a cry for help. Just like my Son's mistakes, it's simply something he's not able to express in another way.

You can use this technic everytime somebody pisses you off, even mildly: see their inner child, bring the memory of someone you love deeply and use the love for the later to deal with the former.

Maybe 2018 will be the year Bob and I become friends or discover common interests. 

Gee, that'd be Magic.

2. Take a break

There are times when I feel lonely and crave for human interaction. 

I'd talk about anything with anyone and it obsesses me until Life put someone directly on my path to actually have a chat. I assume that's a pretty standard feeling, maybe you experienced it sometimes.

But here's the thing: in those moments, I also reject people who'd actually like to interact.

Say the shop assistant is more communicative than usual, or a colleague (not Bob) wants to talk when I'm busy or a friend starts chatting on Facebook as I begin watching Jessica Jones season 1 finale... I'd dodge and avoid the very exchange I crave.

The solution to this "I feel lonely/leave me alone" paradox is to take a break. I believe very few situations prevent us from taking a few minutes to communicate. Being in a shop, at work or on Facebook are not one of those.

Once I went to talk to Bob (apparently the star of this post) and he shut me down, gazing at his computer screen and dropping short answers. I felt unwelcomed, rejected, went away, tried my best to shoe swap and failed ("Bob is such a douche!").

A few weeks later, however, another colleague (Beard) came to chat a bit. I wanted to focus on what I was doing so I didn't elaborate on my answers and kept coming back to my computer screen... until I realized I was being a Bob and needed to take a break.

I put my pc on pause and made eye-contact with Beard. We took a coffee, talked about Queen and I learned that their bassist is named John Deacon, comes from funk (not hard rock like the rest of the band) and actually wrote "Another one bites the dust." 

I felt refreshed and pumped coming back to the workstation 10 minutes later. I would have missed that if I'd just continue the daily grind.

How many other great exchange did I miss cause I wasn't ready to take a break? How many did You?

3. Everybody's cool

I used to think that not everybody was cool. 

I'd feel like I was losing my time if I wasn't talking to the hottest lady, the most door-opening client or the most influential person in the company.

Of course, that's complete bullshit or rather an ineffective self-told story and I'm glad I got rid of it because ditching it brought me the biggest gig I ever had as a video game composer.

In 2013 I launched my first website and became serious about being a freelance music maker. I wasn't sure where to start so I chose the hard path (I'm not proud of it): I spent hours mapping the VG companies in the Czech Republic, cold-contacting them, following-up ad nauseam ... and got to close to no results. 

​During my research, I stumbled upon Kubatko, a fellow VG composer whose work I really enjoyed. I mailed to let him know, he answered, we chit-chat and I forgot about the exchange.

Years later, I was invited by Bohemia Interactive (makers of Arma & Day-Z) to score a new project. It resulted in a 2-year collaboration under very good conditions both creatively and financially.

When I asked why they contacted me they said that they usually work with Kubatko who was busy and recommended me.

58 companies contacted individually and the biggest gig comes from the 1 time I reached out for the sake of human interaction. Isn't it magic?

Everybody's cool. Don't neglect anybody.

The cleaning lady shares your passion for anime, the chatty shop assistant wants you as the drummer of his new post-punk band and your fellow composer will get you bigger gigs than actual clients.

Hell, you're reading this very article because I choose to take some time away from my work to show my music studio to David. I had no business plan in mind, I just wanted to spend some good time with a friend and, sure enough, the Magic happened and I get to write for this awesome magazine!

In 2018...

...I want to learn new skills (Javascript, Russian, maybe something completely different), to get better at parkour, longboard, and piano, to write more articles and put my online presence in order... But more than anything, I want People! 

I want to have a great time with my wife and kids, stay in touch with my family and friends, make new ones and enjoy all the others small interactions that make our life magical ... when we allow it.

Happy new year, everybody and let me know in the comment section, which magical experience you had while investing in People!

About the Author Arnaud Mathieu

I spent about 16 years running after an elusive chimera named “I want to be a Rock Star”. In 2014 I stopped running, started walking I've been enjoying every step ever since. I write and talk about the making and promotion of Music (my primary art), Peace of mind, Creativity and their Love Affair.

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