An unlikely situation
I call the eClub “my quarantine project”. During this period, I noticed that many people around me were left without any income. This was particularly true for teachers of sports, dance, music… all independent professions that we choose out of passion, what a pity! These people who had had the courage to choose entrepreneurship or an artistic profession to feel fulfilled and free without depending on a superior, finally found themselves the first victims of external circumstances over which they had no control.
Yet I was the first to benefit from their work. Thanks to an exceptional outpouring of generosity from people who were themselves vulnerable in this situation, I was able to choose from an incredible range of free online activities. They allowed me to “embellish this confinement” in an almost festive way. I enjoyed more than ever dance classes, sports, yoga, I discovered different types of meditation and I even benefited from Reiki treatments at a distance.
These people were decisive for me, it is thanks to their dedication that I lived this period with, I must admit, a lot of joy and enthusiasm.
There was something unfair and incoherent there.
Spontaneously, the first thing I did for my friends was to find a tool that would allow them to do business online.
Zoom seemed the most appropriate. We had done a lot of real-life tests to make sure that the online courses could be of high quality: we determined the best possible configuration and the maximum number of students that could really be corrected remotely…
During these numerous tests, we were very pleased to see that the students were looking forward to these courses. They allowed them to disconnect from the heavy environment and to engage in a pleasant physical activity. Of course, I took part in these classes myself and I was able to see the beneficial effects: I had a great time with people I didn’t know, we laughed, we spent a lot of energy and let off steam.
We had found a sustainable solution!
Going to the sale
And yet, something bothered me: how were these people going to survive financially? Because the activities were offered free of charge with the possibility of sending donations.
I never liked to give alms. I have always considered that real help is to stimulate the autonomy of the person. I told myself that the ideal would be to provide them with a small tool that would allow them to sell their services online. The idea of the eClub started to germinate.
Initially it was a minimalist project, the eClub would be a simple shop that would sell their services. In order to realize them, they would share a Zoom subscription.
I then enthusiastically embarked on this “small” online store project which, in my mind, would only take me a few weeks and which would greatly help my girlfriends. Ah, how unconscious is a powerful engine!
So I talked about it with a few more teachers to confront it, even before starting the work, with a small sample of real needs. The idea having been very well received, I was fully motivated!
The small shop was going very well. During its implementation, the idea came to me to transform this shop into a “market place”: people were going to benefit from a ready-to-use shop and manage it independently! It was exactly what was needed!
And hop! Now my “small project” became big all of a sudden! The eClub was starting to take shape!
I was going to create a marketplace for online leisure activities as Zoom meetings. The specificity of the activities would be the interactive events during which teachers and students could interact in a way that would create social bonds and make each participant progress according to his or her level. In order to make this marketplace a truly user-friendly place, I will select quality instructors myself, avoiding any competition. Each instructor would benefit from the audience brought by all the others.
It is always in the confrontation of the tool with its use in a real situation that the gaps appear. Even before launching the first tests, I was asked the first embarrassing questions: how many people are going to come to my class? How do I create annual subscriptions?
I am now working on the development of a module for booking sessions! The technical difficulties were multiplying: taking into account the time zones of the different countries, automatic translations of the product sheets…
Witnessing a moment of exhaustion, my friend asks me: why did you make a multilingual site in the first place? It was a very good question, which I hadn’t asked myself at all. Myself taking courses in French, Spanish and English, it seemed obvious to me that my eClub would be in three languages from the start. This would open up opportunities for facilitators and allow users to benefit from courses from all over the world. After all, there had to be benefits to having access to remote activities!
After much, much, much more work than I had originally imagined, the eClub was finally launched! The first sales have taken place as well as the first online courses and the feedback has been very positive from both teachers and students! What satisfaction!
What I think in hindsight
The eClub project has a special colouring for me, it was a kind of joyful creation in a context where, instinctively, I focused on what was important to me: love, joy, freedom.
As in any pivotal time in life, I asked myself, “What do I really need to be happy?” But the unpredictability of this period posed a more difficult question: “How can I preserve my fulfillment from external circumstances?” “how to nurture one’s fulfillment within a social structure that bears less than it oppresses?”
The modest answer that came to me was: to cultivate one’s freedom and pamper one’s morale.
Joy and freedom: what a beautiful duo!
Cultivating freedom allows us to loosen our ties with a structure, an environment. It facilitates the change of orientation and possibly of the environment. Knowing that we have the possibility to change course makes us less vulnerable to the context, to the circumstances. We feel that we have the capacity to choose, to decide what we are ready to accept or not.
Cultivating our freedom requires energy, it requires us to become more and more emotionally and materially autonomous, more and more attentive to the evolution of situations, techniques, knowledge, and ourselves. The culture of freedom is incompatible with any form of laziness whatsoever. But we all know moments of laziness…
How many times has a small task of nothing seemed like a world to us, that we postpone or sloppy? But, more importantly, when does it happen to us? It happens to us when we lack passion, enthusiasm, joy, either for the task itself or in our lives. A good way to cultivate your freedom is to cultivate your enthusiasm, your joy because this joy brings the necessary intellectual agility and emotional flexibility.
Change is a powerful liberator
During this period of quarantine, my daily routine evaporated. What a feeling of freedom! All I could think about was having fun, like a kid! I must have unconsciously felt the danger of depression if I stayed home and did nothing. So I found a whole bunch of fun physical activities to do via the internet. Yes, when you are prevented from going out, when physical movement is no longer a given, it becomes a real privilege!
I’ve never had so much energy in all my life! I have become aware that we are not made to sit around all day, that we have a lot of abilities that we don’t use in our daily lives, that we have a wide variety of skills when we only use a few. I understood that each activity we do feeds the other. While I was doing my project, which consisted mainly of coding, I had moments of saturation. Instead of resting in those moments, at the risk of letting my prevarication suck up all my energy, I was doing a totally different enjoyable activity: a dance class, homemade bread, meditation, gardening… After an hour or two, I would get back to my project with simple and effective solutions.
This period of confinement also freed me from my attachment to the city. I have always liked living in big cities because I found people from all over the world, a wide variety of activities, and an open-mindedness that comes from mixing. During this confinement, I took courses in a wide variety of disciplines, broadcast from different parts of the world, by teachers who were themselves surprised at the international audience that this context had brought them. My geographical criteria were also shattered into a thousand pieces. I no longer need to live in a big city to enjoy a cosmopolitan environment: today it is possible from anywhere!
What if we cultivated freedom and joy together?
I hope that the eClub that I have imagined in this unlikely time will help to spread this sense of joy and freedom that is so dear to me. I would love it to enable many artists and independent entrepreneurs to create a decent income on their own while bringing moments of happiness and human warmth all over the world.