The Throne

I met the other day with a good friend and former colleague who refered in a relaxed and non-arrogant way to one of his former positions as “when I sat in that throne…”  I must admit I was visualizing him wearing a scepter and other fancy emblems.

The word “throne” sends us in a dusty manner to eras when the leaders of the day were enthroned and thus sat on thrones.

The truth is that the throne is a symbol of power and furthermore a symbol of success in career. Isn’t it true that those occupying a throne can consider themselves as successful?

From this position a lot of evil and a lot of good can be achieved. A throne gives you character, power, thrill. A throne is nice looking, superior and attractive. For these reasons in medieval castles open to the public there is almost always a throne set for memorable pictures.

A throne is destined for people capable to demonstrate somehow to somebody they are better at something. For centuries now people have become used to thrones occupied by somebody fit to enjoy the benefits who must also wear and bear the heavy crown of responsibility.

So far so good. But I remembered a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte which I read many years ago and stayed in my memory. “A throne is nothing else than a chair covered in velvet.”  Cinical, isnt’t it, for a character that made his own way to a throne custom made.

However this historical celebrity has known satisfactions, ambitions, friendship, falls, betrayals, adoration and humility – the entire possible range of a leader’s experiences.

Because Napoleon’s biography inspires me beyond his cinicism I’m thinking about this quote word for word.

The velvet represents the recognition, benefits, compensation, life style and power able to manifest in various ways for various purposes. The velvet is soft, luxurious, desired, confortable, noble, “cool”.

Underneath the velvet there is the wooden chair. It is no longer important whether it is precious or common wood. It is wood. Hard, coomonplace, current – sometimes even with splinters. The design and size of the chair impose a certain positioning – relaxed or rigid. You cannot sit totally free on a chair as it is designed to provide a position suited for a certain activity. It is assumed that once you chose to sit on a chair you know what to expect, what type of activity you should undertake and what alignment of the spine you should impose yourself. The chair is “responsibility”.

Something tells me that even today there are lots of people who think they are enthroned waiting for the bows of their leeches and believing that any position is admissible. So I submit to the attention and pondering of all those who already sit on a chair or wanting to get there the lesson offered by Emperor Napoleon I.