“Idle dreaming is often the essence of what we do.”- Thomas Pynchon
I took a planned leave from work for about three weeks. And it felt so good to get away from the atmosphere of daily grind in the office where I work. It’s not just there, but everywhere you work, you find this stifling influence of creativity, really it can be found in any office environment. Perhaps it’s the artificial lighting combined with superficial worries of the day, but whatever the reason it makes for a completely down-trodden environment. No creativity is allowed or encouraged. Just mindless day to day crap.
That’s the way we’ve done it for the past 50 or 100 years of the Industrial Revolution, so that’s the way we’ll keep doing it….But eventually, I guess we’ll be replaced with robots. There will be robots to answer phones and questions, and to push papers. Office workers will eventually be no more, thank God. People will be less needed. We will be less in demand for every sort of thing that machines can do cheaper and better. Machines don’t complain or get colds. They need maintenance, but not health care. So it goes, as Vonnegut would say.
We will eventually be an obsolete race, but we probably won’t know it for a generation or two after the deed is done. Things like that happen silently and stealthily, not with great drama and gusto. There’s no clamoring to end life as we know it, as boring as it seems to us. But office workers will be the next wave to go, as factory workers have already gone the way of the dinosaur. We can work out of our homes, if we’re lucky. Some people could do very poorly and perhaps be out on the streets. And more of us will end up living in cars, or in trailers or utility sheds. It’s not such a bad life, really. I work in a converted shed, and it’s fine for the most part. Of course, I don’t have to live here full time with a room overflowing with other people. The words “it’s fine” would not apply in that scenario. Rather it would be annoying and confining. But it could be done.
We would not be any happier if the office drone positions in society were eliminated altogether. We would be relieved on some level, and unfulfilled on another. For there is a deep and abiding need in Americans for the comfort of the boredom provided by monotonous work. We are free to daydream and dally without interruption, an eternal Mitty-esque dance of the macabre acting out in our brains.
Some of us daydream of sports, or sex, or food, or money. Others dally with power and revenge. There are seekers and doers that would happily imagine us helping others and saving the world. But most of the drones of the human race would be caught red-faced with their pants down around their ankles metaphorically speaking. We cannot judge the unseen nature of dreams and ambitions of others in their private thoughts, but if all of our most boring activities were suddenly gone from the face of the Earth, what then, would we do? Most of us would drift aimlessly as we depend upon the stability of our boring existence to make it through each day. As the man said, idle dreaming may be our true purpose in life. In the end, it could be the essence of who we are and what we do.