The home office used to be considered a bit of a sanctuary. Often aromatically-dressed with floral notes from a nearby scented candle, everything had a place; from my favourite china tea cup to my yoga mat once perched effortlessly alongside other frequently used (yet ordered) possessions. I’d disappear into this compact haven regularly – sometimes before work to read the online news whilst sipping on cups of Earl Grey; other times after work to digest my personal emails with a glass of wine in hand.
I didn’t need a reason to enter this space, but liken it to a confession box. My innermost thoughts were pushed into a keypad when I needed order and clarity, and my mind was free to wander across old memories in the form of dust-free photo frames sporting fond memories of the past and captured smiles of distant loved ones. My old ballet shoes had been retired to the top shelf with ribbons tied perfectly, an assortment of beach glass and old ceramic vases collected from charity shops were littered in neat clusters next to them – I even remember the vertical stack of height-ordered novels that hugged a finely cut resin book end, guaranteed to reflect the morning light gorgeously.
Zooming ahead to the present day, my home office now resembles that of an un-cleared breakfast plate and I’ve been caught out recently using nappies as bookmarks! I’ve looped loose hair away using a dog-chewed ballpoint pen, put stray bouncy balls in used water glasses, and have even managed to balance my husband’s golf clubs against the filing cabinet without having it roll into the living room. My thoughts dance around like frantic flamenco notes and I struggle to keep a track of my phone charger amidst a haze of toddler art and bills – when did my nirvana turn into the cupboard end of Narnia?
I had to laugh recently when I digested a full quote by Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926, Vietnam), taken from the pages of a pre-loved inspiration and meditation handbook once collected at a market for less than a dollar. It ironically read; “Mindfulness helps us to regain the paradise we thought we had lost… If we sit firmly in the present moment, it is as though we are sitting on a lotus”. Sitting on a what?! I definitely agreed with the first half, but the only thing I’d been sitting on recently in my former paradise was a load of unfolded washing; and it certainly didn’t make me feel centred or at peace.
These days when my head hits the pillow of an evening, sleep ranks tirelessly after my mind has finished completing yet another exhausted mental summary of what needs to be accomplished or written down awaiting further action the following day. Did I put that on the shopping list? Have I paid that bill or did Percy paint on it? When do I need to worm the dog? Have we got enough food in the fridge to cater for the extra visitors’ tomorrow night or do I need to visit the shops? Does it look like rain or can the clothes stay on the line a little longer? Did I end up sending that important email? Pee or water on the floor?
Ultimately at the end of the day, we can decide how far we want to stretch the rubber band. Today I chose to ignore the stone cold half-eaten toast soldier that made its way to my computer chair (butter side up thankfully), and sit firmly for a moment in my quiet messy office while my son and puppy slept close by. I couldn’t detect a pleasant fragrance from a wick, nor could I mark out a clear space where I might have put my tea cup if I’d felt like drinking one. I smirked at the dust growing like moss on the corner of a high-up picture frame, and found humour in the fact that a Lego man had replaced many of the empty vessels previously mimicking Stone Henge.
Pick a spot, accept it in the moment, and always remember that paradise is just a space until you decide how you want to feel in it and who you wish to share it with – the rest, to be frank; isn’t worth sitting on for long.