Sure, it needs shelves, a work bench, an old radio perhaps, but these are just ‘things’. Will I actually get work done here? Will any of that be useful? Or will I abandon this one day and leave the mess behind?
The emptiness is daunting. How can it but not trigger a vivid and painful memory of handing over the keys of my last office. That was the closing scene of a dramatic venture following four years of corporate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A foundation that was pregnant with failure even before it was conceived. I came in, in the second act – all excited – pretending not to notice that my job was to clear the rubble and the bodies. Empty offices know these things and they whisper to you late at night.
But the uncluttered space is also an opportunity! Imagine all the things I can do here! I could do “great things”! I could organize friday afternoon drinks and we can sing and dance or laugh really loud. Or I can stay late, surf the web or write poetry!
Nature abhors a vacuum, as is said. Whenever we find an empty space in our life, it will always fill up before long. There is a bit of that in my life right now and I’m enjoying it. But it is also scary. What will fill the vacuum? Good things or tedious things? If the past is an indication, I shouldn’t worry – we have a choice, right? In fact, I have found that the best way to get out of a mind numbing situation is to create some empty space. Throw stuff out. Cancel meetings or stop seeing people we don’t actually like. Be bold and sell the house or quit from a job you hate.
But the biggest spaces to be concerned about are in our head. Do we even have a tiny little bit of emptiness in there or is it just an ocean on mindless to-do lists? Isn’t it amazing that we are able to contain the entire universe in our mind but that it is hard to find a few inches of silence?
Perhaps that is what bothers me about that empty workshop: it isn’t really empty. It is full of ideas, worries, opportunities, problems, good people and people that should leave. It is jam packed with the weight of a whole life. Looks like I have to some more clearing out before I can move in.
Perhaps that bench wasn’t such a stupid idea. Let me go and stare at brick wall for while.