It’s Friday, so as I walked up Elizabeth Street towards work I stopped at one those cute roadside stalls selling all manner of breads and pastries. The morning was fine, but cool, with a piercing wind blowing intermittently down the length of the street. I perused the pastries section and asked questions of the proprietor, one of those Melbourne types, bearded and relaxed. As he popped a raspberry Danish into a paper bag for me other customers stepped up. A small boombox perched on the top of the stall playing old Beatles, Paul McCartney singing Get Back. I walked away feeling somewhat envious of the man selling his pastries. It was simple, but real.
This is the crux of one of the many questions rattling around in my head these days. I continued on up towards the top of Elizabeth Street to the shiny office tower in which I work. My job is more sophisticated, but seemingly less meaningful. I work in an processed environment, not natural. Even if all was good and I felt I was achieving something I suspect there would remain a sense of hollowness.
I’ve had this conversation a few times in recent months and what I feel, seemingly, is not unusual. There comes a stage when the things you have been doing for years pale by repetition and tedious familiarity. It becomes a grind. The solution for most is to downgrade the importance of work. It no longer is a driver of effort or ambition, but rather than a pastime they know by rote and which pays for their life. Their true life lies In other things, in work, in outside projects, in their true passions.
It is a little different for me because I am coming back to this and am desperately dependent upon it. The novelty of returning has long passed, and the dire need of it lends it a toxic edge. It’s true nonetheless that I find it boring, even when I am teasing a solution from a complex issue. The next day dawns and I’m back at my desk.
It’s different for me also because of my particular work circumstances at this time, which are infuriating.
In any case I feel stuck. I’m restless but there seems limited options. Even if I had options I suspect this ennui would be present.
I’m willing to accept that. It’s the price of my desperation, presuming I am fairly compensated – which I’m not. For job satisfaction I need to be plunged into something that demands of me all my intellect and experience. The problem is, as the years have gone by, that it takes more to get to that level. As I have written before, you build an immunity.
All the while I suspect there is something else. It crosses my mind as I buy a pastry, or when I get a coffee from a local barista. Is this a true thing, I wonder? Is it simply the allure of something very different? Is it another variation on the grass is always greener syndrome? I know that it’s not nearly as that and it’s possible that the man selling me a pastry envies me my warm office and regular salary.
In other words, is this a true thing, or a representation of something else?
I think it probably represents something. I’m not going to become a barista and you wouldn’t expect me to sell pastries by the side of the road. What they represent is a kind of simplicity, something more earthy and real. There is no remove, as there is in most office jobs. Somehow they seem more honest. (All of which marries up with my yearning to write and cook and grow vegies – a simple, sustainable and satisfying life).
When I put it like this it comes as no surprise. It’s no wonder I would be drawn to those things given my complex and tangled life, and the constant and ongoing battles, let alone the unnecessary and tawdry politics of the office. Well, derr,
So it’s clear, but what does it mean. How does it translate into intention? I don’t know yet, but must think on it. Hey, maybe I need a life coach?