Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Wiggle Room: a working life
Upon returning from five sun-filled days among the retired folks of ft. myers beach, many of whom are now old enough to consider working life a distant memory, I feel at odds with my desk. A return home is always marked by an inevitable return to the computer screen, and the job, and the utter everydayness of the everyday. Escaping the 9-5 for the short bits of vacation time, tends to remind one of how endless working life seems to be. With days spent in the sun, wandering freely, the confines of office space seem strange in its familiarity. For me, it's always an adjustment that takes a couple days. I look out the window for sun, but all I see is rain. It could be worse, I suppose. I have a window.
I wonder if this is how it is for everybody. The return that is. Over the break, I got a chance to read my long-neglected magazines, including an early March New Yorker. In it, they had an excerpt from David Foster Wallace's unfinished book, soon to be published as The Pale Thing, his masterwork about boredom. Ironically enough, that very article, so effectively foreshadowed my own current state. Here's a little piece, but you can read more on the New Yorker site.
"Try as he might, he could not this last week help envisioning the inward lives of the older men to either side of him, doing this day after day. Getting up on a Monday and chewing their toast and putting their hats and coats on knowing what they were going out the door to come back to for eight hours. This was boredom beyond any boredom he’d ever felt...He had the sensation of a great type of hole or emptiness falling through him and continuing to fall and never hitting the floor."
"Lock a fellow in a windowless room to perform rote tasks just tricky enough to make him have to think, but still rote, tasks involving numbers that connect to nothing he’ll ever see or care about, a stack of tasks that never goes down, and nail a clock to the wall where he can see it, and just leave the man there to his mind’s own devices."
So yeah. At least I have a window.