What I do at work most of the day, every day, is engage in a caricatural form of communication that consists in passing on bits of information to various people through various channels, incessantly, and at a great speed. If I blinked, I’d fall behind. I don’t care about the people I communicate with, nor do they care about me. We’re all just feeding information to the organisation that feeds us, transferring salaries to our bank accounts. Constant beeping of a dozen communicator apps is our muzak for ten hours a day.
The organisation is never sated. No matter how early in the morning I check my email, the inbox is already bursting with messages screaming urgency.
It’s been three months since I landed myself in this lucrative hell of a job, long enough to lose hope that things will start looking up. The people who set up the business don’t know much about the business. Those they hired to run it for them – I am one of those – are condemned to arranging a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces, pretending not to know (in some cases perhaps genuinely not knowing) that quite a few big pieces of the puzzle have been missing from the start, and keeping themselves occupied with the smaller pieces which will have to be rearranged if some of the big ones are supplied. If any of them are actually supplied, it’s at the last possible moment and sometimes not at all; the gaping hole in the general picture has to be plastered over with whatever is at hand at the eleventh hour.
Meanwhile, on the same planet, there’s a drowsy little town in the Apennines, just a couple of hours by train from Florence, where coffee tastes like heaven and wild orchids take over the grassy side of the road every spring, where pavements turn into mountain routes in every direction, and if you follow any of them for long enough – which isn’t very long – you’ll see the prints of wolf paws in the mud.
It’s the kind of a place where the sky is large and the world is still, and if you have a heel of bread to eat while sitting on a boulder that affords you a bird’s eye view of the drowsy little town, the stillness seeps into you and you no longer need to fight for anything because what is, is enough.
Why am I sitting at my desk and not on this boulder right now, you might wonder. The answer is banal: the privilege of living cheap costs a lot and I can’t afford it yet. Most people never can, and I realise how lucky I am to add that little ‘yet’ at the end of the sentence. Every day I survive at work brings me a fraction of an inch closer to turning it into ‘now’.
Unless another apocalypse happens. Apocalypses have that funny way of happening when we’re just inches away from reaching our goals.