"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."~Henry David ThoreauI remember driving to work early one spring morning in particular. I was on time for once and had even ran through Hardees for some of their bodacious cinnamon biscuits. The sun was mostly above the horizon but it was still slightly dim with pastel shades of pink, orange and red dominating the sky.
As I pulled into the parking lot I saw the building where I work at five days a week, fifty weeks a year. It was cold and gray. It almost appears to have been dropped out of the sky into the middle of what used to be farmland. The building looks like some alien monument of steel, concrete and polarized glass. Sometimes it reminds me of some futuristic religious icon, calling its worshippers to devote themselves to all that is cold and inhuman. It stands as a monument to the most heartless form of capitalism, callous ineptness, and corporate stupidity. Unfortunately, I am one of its altar boys.
But as I started the 400 yard trudge to the door, I could tell something was different today. The building still loomed over me, its countless shiny windows resembling teeth, but it didn't just suck the hope out of me the closer I came.
The pastel colors in the sky made the building seem not as stark, and not as powerful. The dewy, emerald grass added to the effect. I could hear birds from all around me. They were in the bushes and trees around the building. Cardinals, goldfinches and big fat robins sitting on the ledges and on the roof and anywhere they could find. Birds always seem so busy in the morning, so happy and full of life. It was as if they were singing just because they could, for the pure joy of it, just because it made them happy. I stopped in my tracks and just soaked it all in. I listened to their songs. I watched them fly and play in the remains of the pastel sky. I took a deep breath and savored that sweet grassy smell that dew makes on a freshly mowed lawn. The building looked pale and weak compared to the show nature was putting on for me that morning.
I confess it seems like I go months at a time, especially in Winter and never even look at the natural world around me. I let this gray, unnatural tomb of phones and computers, memos and staplers dominate me. But then, a sparrow will appear in the bushes outside the building, or I'll watch a duck cross the parking lot, or roll the windows down and just smell all things green and natural. I'll look up at the stars at night and ask myself how can I live my life without taking time to savor these kinds of sweet pleasures that contain no vice, no lust, no evil, just the love of God shown simply through his creatures, his world and everything he created.
These two worlds always collide, the natural and the artificial. The unnatural world of staying busy to earn my bread, the world of the voices in my headset that never go away is strong. Complaints, memos, requests for information, the steel and concrete world always wants to suck me in and anesthetise my spirit. There are months at a time that I forget about that other world. But it has never lasted forever. I still wake up to remember that there is good in this world, even if many of the people that inhabit it aren't.
Real life, that quality of consciousness that makes you glad to be on this earth, is not what happens at work...
Thanks for reading,
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine