Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Corporate Desert

I look in the mirror and guess what I see
A baby blue eyed spirit who seeks your everything
My mind is chaotic, unless I choose to be free
Sometimes I just can't help myself, sometimes I just can't help myself
My mind is dangerous, that's who I'll always be
Hideous devastations, lifeless serenity
My abstract emotions, somehow, get the best of me
Lord take away my sorrow, Lord take away my pain
Erasing life tomorrow, ain't the motive to the game
My mind is dangerous, that's who I'll always be
Erasing life tomorrow ain't the motive to the game
- Life of Agony, “My Mind Is Dangerous”

My desk at work isn’t exactly what you would call personable. It’s more of a sparse grey plastic desert baking beneath the sun of fluorescent lights and the heat breathing dragon-snakes that make up the ventilation system. This pallid expanse is broken only by the inert flora of corporate life: a pencil here, a red pen, the dual glow of one matte and one glossy computer screen, a phone, a keyboard, a mouse only Shakespeare could adequately insult. A pair of headphones snakes its way across the landscape, breaking the monotony with a serpentine contrast of black on grey. The whole lifeless plateau rises from an nigh endless sea of thin carpeting colored perfectly to hide any detritus dragged in from the beautiful taste of freedom twenty feet and a foot of concrete away from me.

It’s difficult for anything to live here, which is why I am consistently the only fauna in the immediate area. Other creatures like me have given in to the fact that they spend more of their lives in this bland atmosphere than they do elsewhere and made tiny oases of their plastic deserts. I continue to hold on to the ideal, or delusion if you prefer, that there is more to life than this corporate self-nihilism. In the meantime, I drag an imaginary rake over the unyielding sands, keeping them simple in a Zen-like fashion. When the day comes to fill a box with my possessions and wander off to bigger and better things, I don’t want the trappings of this desert following me. I will walk out into the forests and mountains of the town I live in and leave all that behind.

The only evidence of life in this wasteland is a small pool of mint tea collected in the typical white cardboard container designed for hot beverages. Otherwise, I allow it to be so devoid of personality that it becomes a personality of its own. I am a nomad, and this is simply where I have set up my tent for the moment. There are better pastures in which to graze, and perhaps it is time to pull up the stakes and start seeking them.

It isn’t until you delve into the infinite cave of information that is my computer that you start to unearth a sense of humanity. And that’s the way I like it. A sparse, neat, trim external to complement the creative, somewhat chaotic interior. One monitor displays a neatly centered photograph of the inside of a stringed instrument, the way it would look if it were seen as a room. The other screen bears a simple calligraphy circle, a symbol for zen. It bears one of my favorite quotations, by Heraclitus, “No man can step into the same river twice, for the second time it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
In the end, my computer is simply what all computers are: digital filing cabinets. It is organized by folder, with the most relevant information the easiest to access. Yet by virtue of its content, it transcends storage and becomes a gallery, a symphony, a library of my work and the work of others. It is the pathway to the life of the mind, the escape from the aching corpse that hosts my intellect.

So here I sit, parched for a world in which my desk is the oak tabletop of a wine bar, the wire mesh outdoor seating of a cafĂ©, hungry for a life that is more than subsistence, more than survival and more than the yoke of debt that hangs around my neck. I think it is time to move forward, to move upward, to move on. I don’t like deserts. I wouldn’t want to live in one. I don’t want to live in this pale grey plastic wasteland. It may be where I work, but it will never be home.

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