A Simple Path Through the Mess
We’ve spent the last couple of days playing Musical Rooms again. That’s when every couple of years or so we get restless with our workspaces and decide to change things up, use different rooms in different ways. There are two small bedrooms that can serve as home offices, plus the garden studio space in the back of the garage. We’ve taken turns using these three rooms, and now I’m back to the first one, which is small and cozy.
How We Get From Here to There
The first thing that struck me when I sat down at my newly relocated desk was the difference a few years could make. The last time I sat down to write in this spot I was a huge ball of worry and stress, sinking under a pile of health and financial issues with no solutions in sight. But life nonetheless went on: problems were dealt with, crises managed, changes happened, new “normals” settled into place. The longer it goes on, the more sense it sorta makes. Not perfect sense, mind you, just sorta.
Have you ever started out doing something, then stop or get sidetracked, then go back to it and sense how it’s no longer the same as it was? Walking a contemplative labyrinth can feel like that. You start out straightforwardly enough, then it turns, goes straight for a bit, then turns again, and it repeats. The pattern is not always obvious, because you are focused on the walking, on staying on the path. It’s only after a bit that you realize what you’ve come through, and where you’re at in the larger scheme of things.
So let’s see now, what was this room like the last time I used it for an office? It has two tiny closets that create an alcove around a small window, plus one standard-size clothes closet. Back then, all three were crammed with clothes, shoes, boxes of mementoes, sewing and knitting supplies, and things I can’t even remember now. The room itself had a large wooden table I used for a desk on which there was never empty space, an easel, paintings, frames, paints, lamps, cart for paints and brushes, drafting table, drafting chair, desk chair, small rocking chair, books and a bookcase, laundry and ironing stuff, corkboards, pictures, two filing cabinets, computer, printer, my deaf telephone, and some other stuff. All in an 8 x 10 room. Supposedly there was oxygen, as well, but my memory fails me.
This time around, one of the small closets holds coats, boots, and the ironing board (I rarely iron, but when I need it, I need it). The other has what remains of sewing supplies and a stack of old beach towels we keep on hand for plumbing repairs. Both closets will have less within the week. I sit at the same desk setup as I had in the office space I just vacated, which is a white drafting table with a clamp lamp, and next to it is a small filing cabinet with a printer on top (not everything can be handled virtually). The big closet has a nearly-empty bookcase and a tall plastic organizer thingy with drawers that are awaiting my final decision about what to do with them. There’s a cushy wicker rocker for reading. There’s sun coming through the window, and the the white rabbit sculpture has a lovely perch on the ledge in front of it.
On the desk, there’s the laptop, a wireless mouse, a Kindle, a small stack of work-related papers, the tile-and-popsicle stick coaster my son made in preschool, and an iPod playing Massive Attack. About 50% of the desktop is empty. I know what my plan is for the next several months, and where it belongs, more or less, in the larger scheme of things, all while being aware that the turns life takes can feel sudden and require most of my focus. But I can breathe a lot easier now. Funny how simplifying life physically simplifies it mentally and emotionally, too.
Time for more coffee.