Friday, January 30, 2004

I've got a little book on my desk. It's something my parents brought back for me from their recent trip to Washington: 'Office Zen' by Stephanie JT Russell. One of those things you might find by the checkout, next to the little book of calm or 101 great text messages.

It's all very cutesy. Take for example:

"Honor the space in small ways that reflect the vastness of your inner self: a fig tree in the staff room? a mini Zen garden on your desk? an abstract painting over the time clock?

Your calming attitude alone will dignify the atmosphere in ways you might not even see."

Or how about...

"See that guy? Over there in accounting? Cyril something. You know him. Stuffs mean little memos into your in-box about a spreadsheet that's not due till the next quarter.

Yeah, he's your guru, all right.

Old Cyril represents everything you don't like or accept about people, about work, about your very self. So grant the guy, and yourself, some respect."

And the final little gem for today:

"Your network has crashed. The coffee station's a mess. The elevator's out. Your boss is in a heavyweight snit. The whole day is just one big fat...

gift.

You heard me - a gift.

The perfect chance for you to exercise all those hard-earned spiritual muscles. To prove to yourself that no matter what you get on your plate, you will make a nourishing meal of it."

And, you know, for all my English irony and detatchment, I like this book. It's good stuff. How many times over the last year and a half have I let my day drift by, irritated by the little work I don't want to do, turning off to the people, the tasks, the organisation around me?

I don't feel this job's for me. Too many bureacratic processes and not enough freedom, and at the end of the day I'm just not convinced enough by the end goal. OK. But what bothers me about leaving is that it allows me to dismiss it all. Sometimes, when I've had another bad day and I think it's OK because in a week or two I'm out of here, it feels too much like running away from everything I don't like or accept about people or really about my very self.

Rationally I know that when I come back from my seemingly more grandiose activities in Israel and India and finally return to the world of work, my future jobs will also be a challenge to my powers of equanimity and concentration. And whether I learn from them or die a spiritual death will, at the end of the day, be down to noone but myself.

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