The building of those who wake up early

If you are beginning to understand what character I am, then it will not have escaped you that I am very serious about my project, to the point of serving as a guinea pig for it.

And quite naturally, it seemed necessary to me in my research path to leave my bourgeois residential neighborhood a few years ago for a neighborhood that I would describe as more popular.

My immersion was not without some good fears (teenagers who like to scare the new residents for better acculturation, I guess!). Yet, after four years, I would say that I am as happy as a clam here. And in the midst of diversity, me and my children enjoy each day.

What I have learnt from life in this neighborhood is so valuable that I wanted to write about it as part of my new series on relationship leadership.

For me, our force for good must include the enormous benefits of putting in place the mechanisms of solidarity and love that our whole society needs, as well as new behaviours the vision requires.

This building and its inhabitants remind us how much all of are just leaves on the same tree.

And here, in a few lines, is the story of the building where people get up early.

You French will not fail to make the link I hope with this injunction of a former president, Nicolas Sarkozy calling on the French people to get up earlier.

Well, let me tell you, Mr Sarkozy, that in the neighborhood where I live, people get up around 5 am… You won’t find many lazy people in the working classes. Maybe you were talking about others you knew best 🙂

  • The baker and occasional coach is the first out. A great sportsman, I often see him go jogging. With his wife, they are the portrait of the benevolent and fulfilled couple, always hand in hand, when they go for their night walks.
  • The second to wake up, is a policewoman, a widow who lost in a short time, her mother, her husband and, her dog. When her dog died, the whole neighborhood organised to buy her a new one. She also says that she doesn’t like Arabs, with a big smile on her face. It’s common here in Belgium, “natives” who complain about the “invader”. But when my son received a Muslim friend who told us that his mother had no more money for their three meals a day, she was the first to mobilise to offer them a bag of food. Word of a fearful, for actions of boundless humanity. Therefore, we no longer pay attention to it, we know that it is a posture, perhaps even the expression of discomfort and incomprehension with the difference. But that her heart is big. Very large; in fact. And now my son’s friend is having fun with her, a bit like we would with a bellicose grandpa. And she instilled in him some of the limitations of the human race, while sharing the immense value of not paying too much attention to it. Maybe even laughing about it. Basically, isn’t it when we take our stupidity seriously that we risk doing even more dangerous things?
  • A little further on is a colleague in the EU institutions (which shows we are not all rich there, contrary to popular belief!) and her husband. She is the incarnate light, always beautiful, full of positive energy and always ready to help. She has made it her life mission. Not an errand without thinking of others. Not a day without her jokes or, her reflections on happiness, which she transmits like Tinkerbell. Her husband is very generous too. After a career in catering, he chose to become a garbage collector for a more orderly life with real schedules, to be there when his wife would give birth.
  • Finally, above me, I have a family of Moroccans from Casablanca, he also gets up very early, he is a plumber. His sons are often at my place. In fact, as soon as my children set foot on my floor, it’s very simple, all the children in the neighborhood also arrive. Life is good for children in working-class neighborhoods. They feel the closeness, the great solidarity and this reinforces in them a strong feeling of security. My door is also always open, it’s important, it’s part of the culture. We come to do our washing machines, or have a tea, fill a freezer to save money, talk about everything, often about love or, our many social events in the neighboorhood.
  • There are others of course, who also get up early. And, as spring comes, I can meet them all. Some will say hello to us during our daily meetings in the park where adults, children and the elderly like to meet around dogs and games.

With this story, my message is that we can create real or virtual tribes to promote our resilience, more human behaviours and a real connection to nature.

And that’s kind of the way to happiness.

It’s a network in its own right that helped make my dream come true. And my wish is to spread this model of friendship everywhere around.

Photo by Daan Stevens on

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