So my workplace is all a flutter with Graduation ceremonies, and I can’t join in. I’ve been doing my tasks and ticking off my to do list but I won’t engage, there is nothing I really want to share in all this ceremony. This is, I think, a question of being dispassionate.
Dispassion and efficiency are complicated matters, interrelated to questions of faith and belonging, and as I rode home on the train yester evening I recalled Thomas Hardy’s “The Impercipient”, a poem written way back in 1898 as he sat in the astonishing Salisbury Cathedral (a magnificent 13th century building) watching a service and his own sense of dispassionate disconnection from the rituals of the institution he found himself sitting in.
This morning I checked it out and it is pretty much on the money:
THAT with this bright believing band
I have no claim to be,
That faiths by which my comrades stand
Seem fantasies to me,
And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
Is a drear destiny.
Why thus my soul should be consigned
Why always I must feel as blind
To sights my brethren see,
Why joys they’ve found I cannot find,
Abides a mystery.
Since heart of mine knows not that ease
Which they know; since it be
That He who breathes All’s Well to these
Breathes no All’s Well to me,
My lack might move their sympathies
And Christian charity!
I am like a gazer who should mark
An inland company
Standing upfingered, with, “Hark! hark!
The glorious distant sea!”
And feel, “Alas, ’tis but yon dark
And wind-swept pine to me!”
Yet I would bear my shortcomings
With meet tranquillity,
But for the charge that blessed things
I’d liefer have unbe.
O, doth a bird deprived of wings
Go earth-bound wilfully!
. . . .
Enough. As yet disquiet clings
About us. Rest shall we.
That’s where I’m at, I can’t and won’t join my colleagues, my stakeholders, and the customers in this ritual. It isn’t bad, it isn’t horrible. It is simply something I don’t believe in.