The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Office Space


I'm just rambling here. I've observed something, and I've had some thoughts about it.

A consistant topic of conversation with people around my own age lately, has been weariness of the rat race. People have been talking about this all along, but what strikes me is that the topic seems to be in the forefront of everyone's mind all at the same time. I have probably heard more references to the movie, Office Space, in the last two weeks; than I have in the past five years.


This isn't a new phenomenon. Thoreau wrote, over 150 years ago, that the "great mass of men lead lives of quiet desparation."

We all really live in Office Space. Now what? We can make a career or lifestyle change, hoping that that, something external, can bring us happiness. That's a huge gamble. It would take a huge amount of energy to break the gravitational pull of the status quo. You have no basis to believe that whatever change you're comtemplating is going to make you any happier than you are right now.

We can also do something perhaps even more difficult, approach this from the inside, and change the way we think.
Last month in the Smithsonian magazine, there was a good article on the difference between puzzles and mysteries, and the importance of knowing the difference.

Puzzle have answers and can be solved. Mysteries have no answers and can only be framed. Sometimes, with new information or technology, a mystery can become a puzzle, but that's not the point here.

I think much of the unhappiness felt by my peers is that they feel there is a specific answer to this existential crisis regarding work; and the unhappiness only mounts because they can't figure it out. We want a cut and dried answer, and there isn't one. We feel inadequate because we can't quite get it, and this only makes it all worse.
In fact, this isnt' a puzzle at all. It's a mystery.

I don't think to simply acquiesce is necessarily what we would want to do. We must accept the reality of our situation, and understand that no amount of daydreaming is going to do anything but make us more unhappy. Who among us would seriously consider the drastic change in lifestyle that walking away would entail? We truly do want to have our cake and eat it too.

The protagonist in Office Space loved to watch reruns of the old Kung Fu tv series. Maybe there's some wisdom Master Po can provide us that will get us through today? We have to be somewhere and we have to be doing something.

"Listen for the color of the sky. Look for the sound of the hummingbird's wings. Search the air for the perfume of ice on a hot day. If you have found these things, you will know." -Master Po

1 comment:

ms_lili said...

everyone thinking the same thing at the same time could be a meme. what could be sending out the mass signal?

the times are changing and just how it will affect me remains to be seen.

what you say calms. mystery vs. puzzle is valuable to remember. how to make sense of the insanity is looking at the situation as a puzzle, when it is the way of things, which is a mystery.

the only that that is real, the only thing that endures, is love. feeling resonance with mates, offspring, and friends is an eternal grounding. nurture these relationships.