Emile is a 37-year-old knife-maker and bladesmith but it’s taken him a while to feel comfortable with those descriptions. Previously his world was software, apps, websites and originally studio engineering. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Chamonix in the French Alps. Emile has spent most of his working life with the distinct feeling that he wasn’t doing what he was meant to do. This is Emile’s very frank story of his struggles with anxiety and his search for meaning. His brilliantly open description of his rock bottom moment, which paradoxically appeared at the top of a mountain with friends, is an advertisement for action if there ever was one. Emile is very keen to point out he hasn’t nailed it - life that is! But it is a brilliant story of how to get started.
Hi all - welcome to our conversation with Emile Bennett, Emile is a 37-year-old knife-maker and bladesmith but it’s taken him a while to feel comfortable with those descriptions. Previously his world was software, apps, websites and to begin with studio engineering. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Chamonix in the French Alps.
Emile has spent most of his working life with the distinct feeling that he wasn’t doing what he was meant to do. This is Emile’s very frank story of his struggles with anxiety and his search for meaning.
Emile’s willingness and determination to paint the real authentic picture of his life is what I appreciated most about our conversation. He does anything but suggest he has life nailed, but it is the hero’s journey, albeit he’s not returned home yet - he’s had that rock-bottom moment which arrived a few years ago after a sleepless night and a 90-minute hill climb with friends. His conclusion, at the top of that hill was that he had to change what he was doing, and he had to do it that day, because, to use Emile’s words
“If I don’t commit to something else now, regardless of whether it’s going to make me any money or not, I’m going to end up in a mental institute, I’m going to have a breakdown.”
It was the culmination of 10 years of “Melancholy March”, Emile’s annual existential crisis of meaning. He describes the feeling as:
“You know you need to do something different, but it’s so incredibly hard to do when all you know is the thing that you’ve always done”
He was trying really hard to find the thing he loved but he didn’t know what he loved. All he knew was what he was doing made him unhappy and anxious and wasn’t making the most of his life.
He talks about great ideas revealing themselves, that they don’t appear when you actively seek them.
“When you’re sitting there stressed out, upset, telling yourself you’ve got to do something else. That thing isn’t going to come because you’re pushing too hard for it.
I’m mildly obsessed with Alan Watts at the moment and Emile’s experience sounds very much like his ‘backwards law’ - whatever it is you want; money, love, security, happiness or something else - it’s the idea that the more you want something, the more effort you make trying to acquire it, the more you’re amplifying the feeling that you lack it in the first place and
How many people have you heard say “As soon as I’d stopped looking for a partner . . . it happened”
The flipside of this also seems to work. Stop fighting the negative experience and it becomes a positive experience. It’s a longer conversation for another day but this it seems, is what Emile was talking about when he says living in a simpler place with less stuff means it’s harder to escape your daemons, you don’t have the toys, bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas and other distractions that do the job of numbing the negative feelings - anxiety, pain, suffering, whatever you call them.
It seems that Emile subconsciously put himself in a position where he could no longer avoid his daemons, his shadow, his negativity, the suffering. I’d suggest that ‘no longer avoiding’ was the turning point on top of the hill, when he decided to take action, when he embraced his shadow and this is what flipped his anxiety from negative to positive because he’d now come to terms with himself and as a result could now move towards something, rather than away from something.
This positive anxiety is anticipation or excitement. It’s the nervousness we all feel when we take on a challenge. The impact is very different from the negativity of fear but it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference, particularly in the early stages. Emile did notice the difference and has created a bit of momentum.
He’s not there yet but he will get there.
Emile’s message is “Can’t find what you’re looking for? Let go and give it space to reveal itself.
Enjoy, Emile Bennett - Letting Go