Friday, October 14, 2005

slow death

I returned on Wednesday from the Bangladesh/India trip I took to get material for articles on rice-crop projects in Bangladesh and India. The trip was good. Very busy and at times tiring, but interesting and fun.

While in a car somewhere in northeastern India, I had the following semi-revelation: office jobs are a slow, stultifying death. (I’m undoubtedly not the first to ever come to that conclusion, and it probably should’ve been a revelation I had many years ago.) I have to find a way out of the office. I’m sitting here feeling swamped and stressed, turning down chances to do interesting things with friends because I have to produce squiggly lines on computer screens, most of which will have no impact on anyone, anywhere.

This hit me when I realized how cool it was tramping around rice fields, talking to farmers (mostly via someone else who spoke both the local language and English) and taking photos. It was interesting, it seemed to have some point (if nothing else it confirmed to the farmers that there were some people, somewhere, who gave a shit), and it provided a chance to (attempt to) be creative. The time didn’t drag the way it does in the office. I was working by 7.30am and before I knew it, it was lunchtime. I didn’t procrastinate, I didn’t have to force myself to keep working. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by information overload. I only had one hour’s access to email in 10 days, and I didn’t miss it a bit. I ended work for the day with a feeling of satisfaction that I rarely achieve when I’m in the office (which is, conservatively, 95% of my work time).

It sounds clichéd, but I felt 100 times more “alive” (quote marks indicate that I feel slightly cheesy using that word in this context) than right now, slumped in my brown-cloth swivel-seat, staring at a screen.