Sunday, 28 June 2015


Decency, a down-to-earth, yet vague concept; a dimension of human morality, a backbone of civilised society. So understandable, yet enough intricate to give you a hard time in coming up with a comprehensive (decent) definition of it. Oddly enough, on the blog before today I posted seven other posts tagged decency; their content could help bring us closer to what the concept of decency may revolve around:
- watching one’s tongue,
- not shunning responsibility for one’s missteps,
- not duping fellow men,
- paying somebody for work they do for you,
- laying off staff “gently”,
­- workings of rotten financial sector,
- giving back money you have been lent.
The list above contains some odd criteria scattered and picked out from the universe of standards of decency.

So what makes you a decent man?
- They way you treat other people?
- Whether you follow ethical principles, either those universal, or those set by the religious beliefs, e.g. ten commandments?
- Whether you obey the law?
- Whether you sympathise with other people and ask yourself how would you feel, if you were in that skin?
- Whether you simply can look yourself in the eyes in the mirror and admit you have not hurt anyone?

What instils decency in you?
- Parents and immediate relatives over the course of upbringing? Definitely in the formative years a human can be shaped, the older one grows, the harder to eradicate bad habits and seed good ones.
- Or maybe it runs in the genes? Examples of children of evil people adopted by decent families and whose new parents’ effort to bring them up failed bear this out?
- Is it inculcated by other institutions that shape humans, with primary credit here to schooling and the Church?
- Or maybe the so-called “moral spine”, for some less, for some more supple, has some other origins?

Decency is indispensably linked and interlaced with other concepts, such as…
- Conscience, something I would define has a black box which stores a memory of all misdeeds of a human. The misdeeds are to be a burden for a human, one is meant to feel bad after a wrong-doing; conscience’s role is to ensure it?
- Embarrassment, a state of feeling uncomfortably with a situation or one’s own or someone else’s behaviour. Embarrassment reminds us falling out of generally accepted norms in several cases should cause us discomfort and would not help us win respect from other people. Fear of embarrassment might preclude humans from doing things they would be ashamed of.
- So also the shame, a strong feeling, causing not just discomfort, but a strong desire to curl up and die, to erase a situation from one’s own and other people’s memory. Shame works after the fact, is an unpleasant feeling, yet it proves if after with hindsight a human realises they had done something bad, shame might work as a stabiliser of a human psyche.
- Remorse, having it means feeling guilty for one’s misdeeds, wanting to make up for the wrong, atone for it, apologise to those hurt by one’s behaviour.

Virtually all humans are familiar with the concepts attempted to be described above, even if they would struggle to verbalise them. Yet not all humans are equally bestowed with decency, sensitivity of human consciences varies from person to person, different situations evoke feelings of embarrassment or shame, some people don’t even have remorse, no matter what evil they do. The most extreme examples are psychopathic murderers who can be involved in manslaughter without being conscience-stricken, nor feeling remorse and a straightforward child who sincerely shows their emotions. All of us are somewhere in between and as long as we fit into “norm”, whenever we behave indecently, we should feel shame and have remorse, yet intensity of those feelings varies. For some people the burden might be quite heave, for some easily bearable…

Incidentally, a quite peculiar distinctive way of dealing with murky affairs by indecent people is pretending nothing has happened, in situations when in my opinion they should react to a situation which has taken place (e.g. apologise for their misbehaviour, etc.)

End justifies the means. This memorable adage raises the question how far a human can go, how many rules and limits can break to achieve what they want.

A penny drops. While I write a (decent) definition comes to my mind. A decent man never pursues their goals at the expense of other people. Nail hit in the head?

Now I have forgotten what I had intended to cover in the previous paragraph, yet I carry on!

I somehow envy people who don’t care, who see fewer problems, who are more bold, have no inhibitions. But is it true indecent people, on account of not being held back by conscience, etc., have easier lives? Aren’t the indecent disposed to be privileged, i.e. if they do not have to overcome inhibitions and deal with potential remorse, their pursuit of goals is less uphill? If they don’t care whether they hurt (in any facet) other people, if they don’t feel guilty of living off other people’s back, does it make such persons more likely to climb ladders of career faster? If it a coincidence most executives in the corporate world are ruthless beasts?

Finally, is it possible to switch between levels of decency when you switch between social roles you perform. I have asked myself this questions repeatedly when I looked at and listed to my workmates. I suppose they are caring and loving husbands and fathers, so why the hell at the doorstep of the office they turn into callous sons of the bitches? I fully appreciate the principle of separating family and professional lives but does it mean behind the gates to the corporate shitty world different ethical principles apply and you have green light to turn into a swine? Do your colleagues deserve less decency than your family? Your family should be given love and care, while the people you work with should be given decency, a bare minimum that in the workplace is much enough! From birth until death we are humans, all social roles only come and go.

I stare at my face in the mirror. After twenty seven years in this lousy planet I cannot pledge not regret any of my deeds, I cannot pledge I have not hurt anyone, I cannot pledge no one has ever suffered on account of my behaviour, yet as long as my offences are not serious, I hope as long as I recognise my wrongdoing, regret it, strive to make up for it and have remorse, people can tell I’m a decent man.

Sunday, 14 June 2015


We were on the other side of Vistula, Warsaw…
Girl: So which level are you taking?
Me: The third one.
Girl: The first attempt?
Me: Yes, and hopefully the last. I come to think regardless of the outcome…
Girl: Will keep my fingers crossed. I wonder why haven’t I got my act together to pursue it…
Me: Because it’s a waste of life…

It was the first time when I (spontaneously) indirectly admitted kind of regretting to sacrifice between 1,000 and 1,200 hours of my life poring over the curriculum and practice exams, while this time could have been spent more productively, I mean enhancing those realms of life which I neglected to study duly. To answer whether it was worth it, I would need to know what would have happened differently, hadn’t I stuck to the self-enforced study regime.

Truth be told, after the candid conversation quoted above which took place two weeks before the exam, I felt I was totally running out of fuel. It wasn’t just about pure laziness or learning fatigue. The crisis involved a question about a profound rationale for what the life had revolved around. Despite losing heart for a moment, I didn’t falter and resolved to drown out questions prompted by one casual talk and do my best to carry the day.

Now it doesn’t take IQ of 150 to hazard a guess love-life-wise there’s been no progress over the recent year…

It never ceases to fuck me up when people tell me what I know, i.e. “find yourself a girl(friend)”. The sentence sounds as if girls were lying on the streets and I were refusing to bow down to pick one up. The key reason why such comments incense me is that I see lots of fantastic girls around, yet they have one (let’s call it this way) drawback in common – they have boyfriends or husbands. I may be wrong, but I don’t blame the fate of bad lack, but perceive it as example of natural selection taking place in the nature. While I was climbing up the education and career ladders, other males have been chasing the most valuable females (not in terms of skin-deep beauty, but in terms of traits, character and other things that are sought and considered when choosing a lifetime companion), now I see single leftovers which broadly fall into three categories:
1) wacky girls scaring most men (including me) off – such as those which I tried to date in 2013 (oddly enough, girl 5 turned out to be really OK and until today we are good friends, while I have even no idea whether the other five girls are still alive),
2) single, far too independent women leading lifestyle totally different than mine, so for parties any relationship is a no-go-area, since both parties realise this would be a perfect mismatch,
3) valuable girls or women, however unsociable, shy, too often to clammed up in their shells to break out of many years of loneliness.

The very last group gives a glimmer of hope, yet approaching the unapproachable requires some determination, patience and care… Hope the hopes have not been dashed.

The question which quite naturally comes up in this reasoning is where to find that girl, if girls don’t lie on the street.
1. Accosting girls which catch a boy’s eye on the street, although some lads dare to do this, is, as I believe, not the advisable suggestion. It takes a lot of courage plus you risk being taken as a pervert or a desperate.
2. Getting to know friends of friends during parties has limited chances of success for two reasons: 1) number of people who are single declines as they age, 2) the people you meet are most often same people you have met via your friends along the way.
3. At work – I’d spare a thought on this one, might come into play only if your duties absolutely do not overlap, i.e. you don’t interact professionally. Otherwise don’t go there (tried out)…
4. Signing up for a language or other course with a purpose not to learn something, but to meet someone – saw some examples of people around 30 doing this and I don’t want to follow that path…

Plus there are many other occasions when you may run across that person out of the blue. One such incidence was the nuptials ceremony I attended three weekends ago. Outside the church I ran across a girl I’d known by sight. I felt like talking to somebody… Three hours later I was driving her home… After the dialogue quoted at the top of this post her telephone rang. Her boyfriend was calling to make sure she was alright, since she’d been supposed to get home some time earlier. Well, par for the course, to good to be single. Of course, some of you would argue this situation was not as straightforward as it should have been and you’d be right. I could also come up with a few comments on the whole situation, but if silence is golden, let it glitter.

I’ve heard advice to wait. Some relationships fall apart and this fact could be viewed as an opportunity. For some reason I see around very few pairs breaking up, so waiting for such miracle looms as dead-end street.

Only life-wise…

With friends I’ve learnt to keep my distance. Overwhelming majority of them are with their partners for a long time, some have got married, some even have offspring. Their privacy deserves respect; what was allowed some time ago no longer applies now. Upshot – loosened friendships, less frequent meetings and on top some ambiguous situations along the way I wish I had avoided…

At work – I’m sick of my closest colleagues being from a different planet. I can’t put up with people who are unsociable and treat fellow people with disdain. Spending 40+ hours per week with guys who you (reciprocally) dislike is unsustainable in the long term, no matter how much you enjoy what you do at your job.

Oddly enough, there is one person who I don’t feel affinity with, yet who has given me food for thought how not to end up. The boss of my boss, woman in her early 40s. Well-travelled, well-read, intelligent, good-looking, single, with no exorbitant expectations and off-putting attitude towards men, which decrease her tiny prospects of finding a partner to near zero. Obsessive working during evenings, weekends and days off are a hideout from emptiness and prospects of solitary old age. A serious warning to me, do anything not to end up like this…

Recently it occurred to me nothing I have is truly mine and there is no place where I actually belong. The missing piece is a sense of stability, a feeling somebody cares, a little confidence if something good happens, it will last longer than a moment. Since I finished studies I lived through several moments of happiness, the only problem they came and went, happiness virtually lacked sustainability. I could reach and grab it, I could make the most it, yet could not hold on to it…

Whoever thinks these are signs of depression, dead wrong you are. Depression is when it seems to you there’s no point in rolling out of bed. In turn I want to get up from bed and have more energy and lust for life, yet I miss making use of it in a way which makes sense, not jumping into the flames out of rush of adrenaline.

Hope the weather turns for the better. With this heat and humid air we had in Warsaw last Sunday and this weekend even a bike ride doesn’t give pleasure. This year my tolerance for heat severely dropped (yesterday and today I broke sweat even when sitting idle).

Next post in two weeks (off to Mazury for the next, for me longer, weekend).

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Finish line crossed

Over! Done! Saw the back of it!

As some of you probably remember, yesterday I sat for the Level III exam. I think I did well. Unlike fellow candidates to whom I spoke at the test centre, I found the exam quite easy and approachable. I’m hoping for the best and wait until 11 August 2015, when results are sent out. I somehow cannot imagine myself putting this tremendous effort again.

When signing up for the Level III soon after learning I had passed Level II I resolved to go an extra mile to do it properly and ensure I would get it right. The amount of work one has to do to pass the hardest in my opinion Level III, is so vast that it simply does not pay off to cut corners and risk a failure. I suppose the time spent to prepare for Level III once, yet properly is shorter than time spent to swot up twice, yet without going the extra mile. I somehow envy those candidates for who the first Saturday of June (and weeks preceding it) was a wipe-out for a few years in a row and still they haven’t got ahead. For the sake of clarity, I don’t know whether I pass, yet I feel quite comfortable, yet the fail scenario seems conceivable and stays somewhere at the back of my mind, just in case.

Plus I feel a lot of admiration to folks who have families and have managed to earn a charter while working, running the house, looking after children. For those guys the challenge was much bigger than for me and no wonder in that group the percentage of candidates who give up is higher so hats down to those who hammer it home.

Average age of the candidates who took the exam with me was definitely below 30; probably many of them even if they pass for the time being will not be eligible for the Charter due to too short work experience. Plus it has to be noted number of Level III candidates (I estimate around 200, most of them were retaking the exam – since in Poland asset management industry is not well-developed, many concepts from the Level III curriculum are vague for Poles, so pass rate in Poland is quite likely below average) augurs the number of Charterholders in Poland this year is likely to exceed 500 (currently the Institute’s page shows 460 Charterholders from Poland).

If I am to share post-exam thoughts, I’d reiterate the ones committed to the blog after Level I and Level II and supplement or repeat the following…
1) In Poland the Charter does not give you any specific qualifications, it rather bears testimony of your intelligence (not everyone is capable of passing all three levels, let’s face it) and willpower (it takes a lot of determination and sacrifices to get to the top)
2) The very exam tests not only your knowledge and ability to crack exam questions, but also your physical endurance and planning capabilities or even adroitness (how to take a piss and not drop your calculator to the urinal). I do not know why it is held in early June, but I suppose it has something to do with checking out whether candidates can resist the temptation when the springtime beckons, it has something to do with weather (yesterday not very conducive, day-time high of +27C, despite air-conditioning switched on it was sultry inside the testing room).

Currently I find myself slightly unable to set my mind into the post-exam mode (I had no problems finding myself free after Level I and Level II). The prospect of not having to pore over books fills me with pleasure, yet I am much more tired-out than after Level I (with hindsight, it was a piece of cake) and Level II, when I was bound to set off for holidays (on Tuesday I have to return to work and I’m bracing myself for a head-on collision with the gruelling corpo-reality). Time to pick up the pieces and maybe the life will not be about putting out fires as it has been since late February.