Post #3018: A dusty cubicle is practice, paradise is practice


Gosh, change can be hard, can’t it? I mean, you tell yourself it’s all going to be fine and you get psyched up for it – but nothing quite prepares you for the surprises that come along the way. This week I am reminded so much of the zen adage that everything is an opportunity for practice.

The house we have moved into is wonderful. It is everything I hoped it would be, and more – there are lots of projects before us, but it is easily the loveliest home I have ever lived in, nestled in a wooded neighbourhood bathed in birdsong and not much other noise. The ocean is only steps away, and right below our place is a lovely and private cove that very few people ever set food on. My friend Kyla came last week and we spent our days lazily doing chores and making little trips around the island for supplies – learning more things about the island that make it a delight to be here. I am mid-way setting up my new textile studio where I long to get my hands back to the loom and sewing machine – and Brian has the music studio set up started in the double garage. In short, this place is perfect for us, and we anticipate that the community is the right fit also.

On the other hand, I started back at work this week in my new “office” space only to discover that I have essentially been assigned to sit in a large storage area full of old furniture, boxes of paper for shredding, and a bunch of garbage (literally, papers and old file boxes, and you name it – garbage). It has zero natural light, hookups that require cables to be strewn across the desktop (there is no way to put the ethernet cable underneath so it can be tidy, and I’m pretty sure that it’s got significant dust in the carpets because my asthma started up badly on the first day. Oh – and the chair they’ve given me to sit in has a huge tear in the side so the foam is spilling out.

Now, as much as I try to be all “anywhere will suit me fine” about such things – this does not suit me at all. In fact, it makes me rather upset – and I have been working with those feelings for the last couple of days. Mostly, I’ve come to realize, it’s a blow to the ego and I feel like I “deserve” better than a dusty, dark corner with a falling apart office chair. I feel I’ve suddenly lost “position” in my organization, and that I should get more respect for the work that I do. And I see that there is some resentment in having to seat me at all since I don’t “belong” in that office in the first place. I mean – the folks there are friendly as all get out – so there is that. But the space itself is unfriendly (to anyone, not just me – it’s a mean space).

Last night I was really wallowing during my long commute back to the ferry, and the fact that I had been feeling so ill-treated in my first two days working over here. Up until this point I have been telling myself that I couldn’t work at home, that I didn’t want to work at home, that I needed an office space to feel validated in the organization – and all these other things – and it was making me even more upset to feel this way and like there was no other option other than to return to working in Vancouver some days per week or some other untenable solution. And so my mind was going over and over all the problems with the arrangements and picking, as we do. Peck, peck, peck. Because even in paradise we can always make trouble. Amiright?

So I stopped myself. I just stopped myself mid-peck and decided that I would start practice, right there on the bus when I was tired and still 40 minutes from home. Focus on the breath, be present, notice the thoughts, allow the thoughts without getting caught up in them, and again. And again. Of course, that’s a secret trick of the Jedi-master and within minutes, possibly within one minute, I was out of the loop of ego, deserve, position, respect, belonging. Instead, I was just being on the bus. And then I was being at the terminal. And then I was being on the ferry, and at home where I cooked a great dinner, vacuumed the house with my new vacuum, and tidied up generally. I walked to the beach with the dog while the tide was high, and then I came home and watched the hummingbirds feed outside my windows at dusk.

I went to bed early with a sore throat, and woke this morning later than I had meant to – but still started work at my kitchen table very early (6:30) which put me in sync with my Ottawa colleagues, and allowed me to work at my most productive time, and also be finished in time to run errands. On my lunch break I watered the front garden and cut down some plants past flower for the compost pile. I looked up afternoon yoga classes on Wednesdays and discovered that there is a restorative yoga class just up the street from me at 4 pm – and thought, that’s something I could do when I work from home. I could bike up the hill afterwards to a yoga class. I bought plants at the nursery at 50% off and in a few minutes I’m going to go outside and plant them.

Essentially, I stopped being miserable about nothing and allowed myself a little bit of space to just be okay which let the next thing and the thing after that to also be okay. To be what it is. To not want it to be something else and thus the root of suffering, the ruin of paradise. Because really, a crappy office is about the smallest of life’s worries, especially when one isn’t actually required to be there very much (if at all) . Tomorrow I go to Vancouver for meetings, Friday I’ll work from home again – and that’s a week of full time work, only two days of it in the dusty corner.

Right now the hummingbirds are in heated battles outside my window for the last drops of nectar at the feeder. I never knew how territorial they could be. I’ve got some plants itching to be set out, and a dinner to cook for when Brian comes home from the city. I’m here, in the garden of eden, wanting for nothing really at all.

One thought on “Post #3018: A dusty cubicle is practice, paradise is practice

  1. Good for you! Still crappy that they could not at least have made an attempt at tidying up for you and get a decent chair. Small things like that would maybe have left a better impression on you. Hang in there.

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