Back to the Desk by Robert Lynd
In Back to the Desk by Robert Lynd we have the theme of exhaustion, guilt, work, change, control and happiness. Taken from his Essays by Robert Lynd (1959) collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Lynd may be exploring the theme of exhaustion. While many people may go on holiday in order to relax. Lynd finds himself unable to relax and exerts himself to levels that only leave him tired. Tired as perhaps he might be should he be back working at his desk. This may be important as Lynd could be the type of fellow who finds it difficult to settle when he is not working. Guilt may set in and he feels the need to exert himself (physically) as much as he does when he is mentally working. What is also interesting is that Lynd though he bemoans his daily activities while on holiday still nonetheless partakes in each individual activity. Probably again due to guilt. He simply cannot rest as many other holiday makers might. With regard to having breakfast in bed. While on holiday Lynd frowns upon this idea as being wasteful. Yet it is noticeable that when he is at home breakfast in bed is essential before Lynd begins his day.
If anything there is a change in Lynd’s habits when he is on holiday and he does as much activities as he can. Something that may not necessarily occur should Lynd be at home. It is as though Lynd wants to take advantage of all that is on offer. Though at the same time not necessarily enjoying it. There is a sense that Lynd is desperate to relax but the opportunities available to him, like golf, only make matters worse for Lynd. It may also be significant that Lynd is not accompanied by anyone when he is on holiday and if he is they are never mentioned. Lynd is a middle aged man who appears to be focused entirely on his day job. It is for this reason that the reader suspects that Lynd may find it difficult to relax while on holiday. He only has the company of strangers to entertain him and they may or may not see life through the same lens as Lynd. In fact most people when they go on holiday prefer to forget about their work or day jobs and relax as much as they can. In this way Lynd is an exception to the rule.
Lynd is happier to be by his desk knowing that he is being productive and that the task at hand is being dealt with in a proper manner. A manner that is pleasing to Lynd. At no stage in the story does the reader suspect that Lynd has the ability to delegate work in his absence. Which may be deliberate as Lynd might actually look forward to having a stack of work to complete on return from his holidays. In reality one would not expect Lynd to be employed to sell brochures or rooms at any particular holiday destination. He is totally out or character and only goes walking outside the hotel because he cannot find peace and quiet in the hotel. Lynd also seems to be his most productive in his office when he is behind his desk. He considers himself to be ‘borne lazily from place to place.’ This may be important as Lynd may have found his vocation in life. Working at his desk. It is a place in whereby he has absolute control from start of finish and understand the particulars of what he is doing. Of course this would bring happiness to many men. Knowing what they are doing all the time while working.
The problem for Lynd while he is on holiday is the simple fact that he is lost. He does not know what to do with himself. At least in work there is some type of order. Yet while on holiday life is chaotic for Lynd. Putting himself out of synchronization of with his daily routine is. The reader left to feel that Lynd would prefer every waking hour that God gives him to be at work but unfortunately his employer will not allow him to do so. With the employer assuming that a fresh Lynd will be an even more productive employee. For all the pitfalls that come with going on holiday for Lynd. It is interesting that his employer does not have a bad word to say about him and if he does it is not mentioned in the essay. Some people look forward to their holidays. Lynd on the other had is not one of these men. He prefers to be a workaholic and devote himself to the task at hand in work. In reality while in work Lynd is his own master more or less.