'We have to go back, Kate...'
Do we, really?
Now I know how Kate felt.
(Let me back up for a second, especially if you’ve never seen the mid-2000s ABC show “LOST,” which is amazing and you totally should watch from beginning to end, starting this weekend if you can. Spoiler alert, by the way...)
Do you remember the season three finale of “LOST,” in which we see a disheveled, hung over-looking Matthew Fox as Jack Shepard meet Evangeline Lily’s Kate Austen late at night at the end of an LAX runway?
And do you remember the conversation they had, about whether or not they actually should have left the island? The island where they were lost for three years, after their flight — the now-famous Oceanic Airlines flight 815 — crashed en route from Sydney to Los Angeles?
In the final moments of the scene, we hear Jack tell Kate he’s been taking trans-Pacific flights in the hope he can somehow find his way back to the island:
Jack: “Because I want it to crash. I don’t care about anybody else on board. Every little bump we hit or turbulence, I actually close my eyes and I pray that I can get back…”
Seeing how anguished he is, Kate tries to change his mind. But to no avail:
Jack: “We made a mistake.”
Kate, pushing Jack away: “I have to go. He’s gonna be wondering where I am.”
Jack, holding onto Kate: “We… were not supposed to leave…”
Kate, whispering: “Yes we were.”
Kate walks away and gets back in her car.
Jack, shouting: “We have to go back, Kate! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!”
Substitute where you work for Jack, and you for Kate, and I think we have a pretty good understanding of how a lot of workplace conversations are going right now. (Not conversations in the workplace, necessarily, but about the workplace for sure.)
Which is why I’d wager a lot of us — as we learn of our companies’ plans to go back to our respective offices — are feeling like this:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve become awfully comfortable with my routine of attending my online meetings, getting my work done, and… doing whatever I want with my own time before and after.
For me, that means getting my son to and from his summer day camp, getting mid-morning (or mid-afternoon) runs in, taking care of errands I never could when I was stuck at the office all day, and just being home, where I’m able to look out the window at my back yard from the office I’ve set up in my basement.
What it also means, at least for now, is that my son and stepdaughter sometimes wander into my office when they have a question, and sometimes they’re in the frame of my Zoom call. As is our golden retriever Twix, whose tail can often be seen just at the edge of the picture as she nudges me for some pets while I’m talking with my co-workers.
For you, it might mean something similar or completely different — but I imagine you too have developed a routine that, at least to a certain degree, you’ve had a large hand in creating, rather than having it created for you by your commute, workday schedule, and second commute home.
Let me add that I know many of you have been working all this time in hospitals, restaurants, and many other places where working from home hasn’t been possible. You’ve been the heroes, in fact, who’ve made it possible for people like me to survive this past year and a half.
But I like the new normal. It’s a lower-impact way to live. I don’t want it to end. And I’d love it if many more of us could take advantage of it.
Don’t get me wrong; if it comes to an end, it’ll be okay. (Sigh.) I know I’m very lucky to have a job in the industry I do, and I’m thankful to have the great co-workers I have. And while of course it’s my someday dream for this newsletter to be successful enough so I don’t have to work a full-time job, today is not quite yet that day 😃
So I know I’ll adjust (eventually!) if we have to go back to our offices. But it sure has been nice not having to be back on the island for a while, hasn’t it?
An article you simply must read
She Fell Nearly 2 Miles, Then Walked Away. When I first stumbled across the headline for this amazing piece in The New York Times last week, it struck me as something like a cross between “LOST” and David Grann’s The Lost City of Z, one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. I’m not sure I can do it more justice than this quote:
“From a window seat in a back row, the teenager watched a bolt of lightning strike the plane’s right wing. She remembers the aircraft nose-diving and her mother saying, evenly, ‘Now it’s all over.’ She remembers people weeping and screaming. And she remembers the thundering silence that followed. The aircraft had broken apart, separating her from everyone else onboard. ‘The next thing I knew, I was no longer inside the cabin… I was outside, in the open air. I hadn’t left the plane; the plane had left me.’”
👉 Another one I loved and think you might too: Encounters With Ghosts on Georgia’s Golden Isles
Words to run by
“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald