You aren't supposed to hit on your job colleagues. It jostles the carefully de-emotionalized relationships that are necessary for working together. But I recently realized: that's not true for independent consultants, like me. We're the suave James Bonds of the working world: waltzing in and lifting skirts is all part of doing the job. Why, hiring an independent consultant is practically an invitation for him to practice his slick moves on any good-looking employees.
"My Pedometer told me that I was twenty-five.... I thought I was going to be like my brother, whom I had had to leave by the roadside a year or two round the corner. He had wasted his breath on singing, and his strength on helping others. But I had traveled more wisely, and now it was only the monotony of the highway that oppressed me-- dust under foot and brown crackling hedges on either side, ever since I could remember." -- The Other Side of the Hedge, by E. M. Forester.
I lent that story to a girl I met traveling Europe. She had her trip-- every two day city visit, every "Europe's Best Hostels" trademarked stay, every guided tour-- planned out beforehand. She said the story changed how she saw the world; I hope it helped when her bag was stolen in Spain. I'd found the analogy a bit weak: that mundane life is an endless road of depressing progress, and there's a paradise waiting just out of sight, if you'll crawl through a few thorns. I don't think anyone's life ends up that way, whether they want it to or not. And the departure is so much easier but the journey so much further. I say it's a foggy span of river, with an unpredictable current, hidden rocks, and strange noises echoing across the water.
The other side is said to have meadows which never cease to bloom, and the trees bow their fruit when you're hungry. The residents there sing and dance and talk and fuck all day, and live in perfect harmony with the animals that share the land. Life isn't without challenges, as devastating and complicated as our own, but they never stop laughing and hugging one another, basking in the knowledge that they choose these challenges for themselves. People grow old and are revered, and die and people rejoice, and are forgotten before they're understood, but the glow from their passing keeps everyone warm.
I thought for sure we'd reach the other side by now. We're at one of the narrowest points in the river, I'm sure of it. We have the beatniks to thank for that. I can smell Goloka, but I can't see it yet. I launched my barge to cross this foggy span of river five years ago (maybe longer-- I haven't touched solid ground in 10 years). It seems impossible for the river to be this wide, but I know people who have been crossing it for 40 years. One says he's seen it-- glimpses it frequently—but the current always sweeps him away.
Some people proclaim that the current always pushes against our crossing, others say towards. I've found that they're both wrong: the current always flows sideways. With all the rocks, that's as often convenient as it is frustrating. Some people choose to let it carry them along. Some always push against it. Some forget their home or adjust their destination to align themselves with the current, but it never holds true. I keep checking my compass-- more often than I need to-- and the current keeps turning me around, but I'm on course as best I know.
I hear other boats splash the current, but I'm still lonesome sometimes. My boat is built for weathering waves, not hosting boarding parties. Half the time I mis-signal my lantern, or turn too soon, or bump hulls. The other half is often enough, but it makes me miss home (visiting home in Pennsic and ESG rush makes it more bitter and more sweet). I wonder if I'll ever go back.
Speaking of which, I'm thinking of moving-- just because my compass is pointing that way. Anyone know a good commune, or an interesting group of apartment mates?