Frank Zappa once said, “It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” Perhaps more so because I had a 5 hour meeting yesterday and today just happens to be Valentine’s day, but I believe these two possibilities to be extremely plausible endings to the world. I showed up after my little over 2 hour commute light as a feather! Just a hand-bag in tow, armed with pen and a notebook. I left in a maelstrom of paper. I felt like Harry Tuttle of Terry Gilliam’s brilliant movie, Brazil. Paperwork flying at me from all directions, weighing me down, and burying me. I left feeling moody and heavy like a paperweight. When in reality all I wanted to be was Sam Lowry of Brazil, sailing through the clouds with the silver wings of birds.
The ironic thing is that our company is focusing on “Fast & Simple” this year and we went “paperless” a couple of years ago. Since going paperless I have been informed by my co-worker that we in fact use twice as much paper. And I fail to see how a 5 hour meeting hours away is fast and simple—or how any of the pointless paperwork they make us do is fast and simple. And it is funny how my store got a reward certificate to frame and put up on our walls, another piece of paper, with one of my associates’ names totally wrong in bold print upon it and the doctor’s name wrong. A true Celebration of Excellence! No matter how they try to sugar-coat it, it is a bureaucracy. I am sure we will all get lost in the paperwork soon enough.
As for nostalgia, I am rereading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have not read it since early childhood—and honestly I do not remember a thing. It is like reading an entirely new book. I find myself nostalgic, not for my childhood, but theirs; sisters gathered ‘round the fire at night doing needlework, talking, and singing before bed. It sounds quaint and delightful. And I can’t help but love Jo—her moodiness, her trying to be good but failing—her passion for the written word. In sort, I can relate to her. And honestly—rereading this, or reading Virginia Woolf, or Jane Austen, or Emily Bronte is like my nostalgic Cosmopolitan magazine. I read those great authors while girls my age poured over Cosmo magazines to take silly quizzes and read horribly written articles about horrible things.
And then there is Valentine’s Day—and glad I am not caught up in the commercialism of it. I see people scrambling to purchase last minute things for their “loved” ones. Where is the forethought? And it shouldn’t be about the money or the one day. I love and appreciate the people in my life everyday. I do not need chocolates, or a store bought card, or roses that will wither and die within the week. I do not need a fancy dinner or date. I plan on hanging out with the people closest to me with an open heart, as I always do. And, of course, flying with Sam Lowry above the paper, above the nostalgia, above the commercialism of the day, above it all.