Sunday, April 23, 2023

Not Even Not Zen 302: Never Mind


Once upon a workday dreary, as I fumbled, tired and bleary,
Over many a slide and colored spreadsheet of financial kind,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,
A fool with untied shoes a-flapping, a sound so soft but misaligned.
“It’s the Fedex guy,” I muttered, “A teen with music unrefined,
Barely words and half a mind.”

Distinctly, I remember it was in that warm September
And every sharp and lying member of the board had underlined
The projects they had mired -- schemes they said that they desired
But when the costs had come, perspired or retired from the daily grind, 
Too faint to bear the price for programs they let fall behind.
Nameless blame is what they find.

And the dreaded thought that sticks in, there's my boss, an elder vixen, 
Fresh from ruined plans that even she cannot rewind,
And I shudder should she blame me or, even worse, just share her mind.
"It's a visitor," I mumbled, "with a package that needs signed.
Or a stranger beered and wined, arriving drunk
Or simply rushed and misassigned."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, all my work you've undermined
When so faintly you came peeking, seeking for the undersigned.
Well, I'm not the one." I yanked the door and looked behind;
Of callers there were none to find.

Deep into the hallway peering, I stood there twenty seconds fearing 
That my boss would any second snatch me, in her grasp be porcupined
By fingernails that blood red guttered, stabbed by conscience quite uncluttered
But then a single phrase was uttered, the whispered words, "I've lost my mind."
This I muttered and an echo later stuttered, "My mind."
Merely this, my doubts enshrined.

Back into my office turning, all my acids in me churning,
Soon again I heard a rapping like before remind.
"Come now," said I, "only a few dollars pray for, it could be my office neighbor
and all he wants is me to pay for cookies of the minty kind.
He has a girl scout child, he says, and guilts me till my heart is burning.
There's no pocket he's not mined."

Open, then, I flung the portal. Before me stood a chubby mortal
With coffee cup and jelly pastry, which upon he neatly dined.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, strode dignified yet worldly blind
Almost sightless but for glasses of the thickest kind.
On my chair he perched his stately, wide behind.

Then this birdbrain sat there, smiling, my thin patience he was filing
Under H for 'have none,' though he himself could calmness find.
"Though your beard be shaved to goatee, and you sit like Zen devotee,
I have work to do and cannot rest," said I, "no matter how I pined
For peace or cash reward, in hope or sorrow letting earthly pleasures bind."
Then quoth the buddha, "Nevermind."

"Those rewards are dust already," said the voice with hands so steady
And dismissed Samsara's pleasures with a gesture he'd long since refined.
Although his fingers flew like a pidgeon, of coffee he spilled not a smidgeon.
Simple wrong and right had ages past been well defined
And now this office drone could too simply true Nirvana find
With such a phrase as, "Nevermind."

So the buddha murmured lightly and tried my patience most politely
With one word, as if his soul in that one word defined
How my work habits were pathetic compared to his 'at peace' aesthetic.
His buttoned shirt was collar open and most distinctly pinstriped lined
As he to my colored spreadsheet pointed and then he much maligned
With coffee breath of, "Nevermind."

"Look now, Bob or Bill or Buddha, your advice is stinky gouda.
I can't solve my office headaches with a 'Nevermind.'"
Hands on hips, I faced this fellow, whom I saw as over-mellow
Or maybe just too yellow-bellied for the office grind.
His refrain is oft repeated by those workers unrefined
Who live whole lives of "Nevermind."

Startled, no, he was far from it; his calm had not yet reached its summit.
I tapped my foot and tried to plumb it while, with both mouth and hands, he signed,
"It's a spreadsheet from a torture master. There's no saving this disaster.
So take it from a still-hardworking bum who wants to save mankind.
Do your greatest deeds for those whose souls have shined
And all the rest, just nevermind."

So the guru, quite beguiling, clicked the keys for standard styling
And said the members of the board could kiss his fat behind.
The smart ones, they would hardly need it. The others wouldn't even read it.
Those members were among the brightest apes in humankind
And some agreed with, "Nevermind."

"What work, then?" I asked my censor. He gave a look like I were denser
Than he expected, his one eyebrow high or misaligned.
“Someone has a moral disorder if they give the same weight to every order.
This you know, and to this project you were not inclined
While on others, you seized the moment, and made them self-assigned. 

You’ve hesitated over wrongful asks and mentally, you triaged your tasks.
You don’t blindly do each one in the sequence that your boss outlined.
Not each list done just to the letter, you sense who is the moral debtor.
You judge astutely and then you mutely promote the best one better.
That’s why your deeds sometimes have shined.
And I thank you for being kind.

It’s why some days feel like outtakes and this project gave you headaches.
In everything you do, intent and results get intertwined.
This task was simply taking longer because in your mind it felt wronger
Than all the others for this past month combined. 
A better project makes you stronger
While a stupid one leaves you disinclined.
And you need to say then, ‘Nevermind.’”

"And now away!" The buddha smiled with arms upraised.

“There’s no shadow you should lurk in when you know I’ll turn the work in.
Everything done was once important and all undone can be declined.
Save your soul and flee the yuppies. Go make some soup. Go hug your puppies.
Take yourself home to let the tensions unwind. 
Or wind yourself up and play with all the friends you find. 
Just don’t get worn down by the grind.”

Minutes later, I left my department and headed for my dark apartment. 
As I walked alone, dealing with the details of the bleak remind,
I stalked again the paths I’d strayed, re-lived the mistakes I’d made
And reflected on how in samsara's tentactles I’d been serpentined.
My footsteps halted.
I glanced into the lighted window of my mind. 

And the buddha, as is fitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
Near my office in his beanbag chair reclined
And his eyes have all the seeming of the Om of holy dreaming
And he's beaming, simply beaming, with a joy that's been refined
By laziness of work and laughter intertwined.
And all that's needless, nevermind.

  -- Eric Gallagher

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