Day 1: I wake to the heady pine scent of Christmas—the morning I’ve dreaded (backstory here).
Our trees are falling. Heartwood splinters like gunfire.
Out in the air-conditioned Forestry Bobcat with its whiz-bang red Masticator, the contractor we hired knocks over bug-ridden pines. Each living, still-photosynthesizing tree explodes. Detritus sprays 300 feet.
Goodbye, fairy-tale forest. Farewell, shadowy habitat for owls, deer, small furry critters. Our once-magical backyard seems doomed.
Our contractor follows another man wielding his chainsaw against the larger victims of pine bark beetles.
Their plan seems haphazard, the destruction acute.
I can hardly bear the new emptiness.
If you could see my desk, you’d note a distinct resemblance to our yard. Stacked files and papers teeter; wall-to-wall bookshelves box in my desk. You might think I’m a hoarder. Or lazy.
Or you might think I like having all projects visible, each resource at hand.
Much as I love to streamline prose, curate the lines of a poem, a garden, a room, my brain is a thicket of ideas and doubts, worries and goals.
Plus I’ve always enjoyed hard evidence of artistry’s litter, creativity’s stages.
I want to hear God’s direction, moment-by-moment. I also love surfing creativity’s wave, letting time melt away.
Need I mention housekeeping suffers? (All tips and opinions welcome!)
Day 2: My view changes again. I see large gaps where pines once towered. When the contractor stops for the day, I see lower trunks cleanly trimmed, ten feet from the ground.
I see semi-pleasing vertical precision.
I see margins. Clearings. Scenic breathability.
It’s no longer the woods I have loved and walked through for twenty-five years . . . but there is a stark appeal to order.
Our yard looks unnatural. Lonely. I want to pat the bark of surviving trees, impart hope.
“We are tactile creatures,” author Rob Bell writes, in his new book How to Be Here.
[The] substances and surfaces we surround ourselves with powerfully affect us.
If I prune old files, thin out my library, clear-cut a wider swathe through my office, will my creativity thrive?
Recently, my amazing sister helped me clear a forest of icons from my computer desktop. We created eight shortcuts, which she called “alien folders.” Weird name for an organizational tool. I felt like a stranded Martian trying to memorize each step of the process. In Swahili.
Upside? My computer starts faster now.
Might the same be true for my brain? What would happen if I organized one bookshelf this week? Several files next week?
…even small changes in your exterior environment
can deeply shape your interior life.
Clean, intentional physical space can dramatically affect
how calm your mind and heart are.
I stare out my office window, decidedly gloomy. It looks more like a park than a small wilderness.
Insight often zig-zags my way in stages. Like lightning, or Uncle Tanner (our elderly lab), insight bursts into a clearing. Often peripherally.
Day 3: Our contractor continues to edit the land. He wears a neck brace to offset the bone-jarring violence of his art. And he is an artist. I see that now. He works amid mess, like I do. He holds a finished outcome in mind. His work facilitates healing.
He is creating space. Space where surviving trees, like souls, can thrive.
- more light
- more air
- more water
Space for roots to go deeper. Wider.
He knows the new vista he’s giving me at present is hard for me to accept. He asks how I’m doing, takes time to show me photos of properties he has groomed—tamed estates, each a worthy inheritance. Green. Even lush. Simple. Serene.
I don’t know what I need, sometimes, until it’s forced upon me.
You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir! —Psalm 16:6 (MSG)
MAKING IT PERSONAL: Do you have a drawer, or shelf, or wallet in need of streamlining?
I would love to hear how an orderly—or cluttered!—work space affects your creativity . . . efficiency . . . serenity . . .