The Mavidea Bookshelf – The Waves

Many of us at Mavidea can be found afterhours with our noses buried in a book. Actually, if you peek in on Fridays, you’ll find quite a few of us reading during work. That’s when we have our MavideaU book club.

In the upcoming months, different Mavideans will write about books they are reading and the lessons they’ve learned in our Bookshelf blog series. You might even find yourself surprised at what we’re reading.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Read by BethAnne Dorn

I find much comfort reading books by Virginia Woolf. The feeling I get is similar to a heated debate over coffee with an old friend. The conversation is lively and challenging, but I walk away ultimately feeling more understood and understanding more.

The Waves has been described as Woolf’s most autobiographical work, which is odd because the storyline has nothing to do with her. In fact, the novel progresses by six different friends’ thoughts over their lifetime. None of the friends – three male, three female – take the form of Virginia Woolf. Yet, somehow the six of them, their feelings and choices, concert into something that resembles the author. And the reader. By the end of the book, the inner monologues of Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny, Rhoda, and Susan may start to remind you very much of your own hopes and fears, successes and failures.

You might wonder why I chose to write on a modernist stream-of-consciousness novel for a business blog. I picked this book to write about for two reasons: first, because I have a difficult time separating my life into “safe for work” and “not safe for work” (I suspect you do too), and secondly, because business is simply working with people to supply what they want or need. The Waves has a lot to say about people, and even more, what they want or need.

Each of the six main characters has one or two uniquely identifying fears or desires. Louis craves above all to be accepted. Jinny desires to have her physical presence known and to be loved. Each of these wonderfully complicated people embark on a lifelong quest to satisfy their inmost yearnings. We would do well in whatever we do to help people discover and meet their needs. “But I just sell tires,” you might object. Your tires might take someone on the trip of their lifetime. Your tires might help a parent drive their child to their first piano recital. Your tires might make the income that allows your employee to provide for their ailing parent.

If you’ve lost sight of why it is that do what you do, take a moment to reflect. Ask yourself, what are my desires and how can I help others achieve theirs? Zig Ziglar, the most aphorismatic person I’ve ever read, said, “You will get all you want out of life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

Relatedly, while each of the characters had individual wants, there was a similarity between them all. The businessman, the poet, the housemaid all began to blend together in their awareness of the world. At the end of the day our idiosyncrasies, cannot blur that we are all people, worthy of respect and great happiness. Don’t forget that with customers – even the pesky ones.

It goes without saying that writing a few short paragraphs on a sweeping, intricate novel can come off reductive. My hope is that this a little taste and it will entice you to go experience the richness of The Waves for yourself. Feel free to send me an email at bethanne.dorn@mavidea.com to continue the conversation or find out the other books on my bookshelf.