If you are anything like me you need a space for things. There is a space for your stapler. A space for your shoes in your wardrobe, a space for the first aid kit and Mum’s damask linen in the dining room bureau… there are places for things to be so that when the time comes to use them – you know where they are (yes I am sounding like my mother here).
Similarly, there is a place for things to occur. Like the well-ordered nature of a 50’s housewife’s kitchen, so too are there physical places for activities to take place. The dining room is for eating, the attic is for contemplation and study, the bedroom corner for reading and gazing out at the garden.
Finding one’s ‘place’ to take part in certain activities is important and vital for the mental clarity to come forth and to harness all the faculties that are necessary for that action. The gym is where you prepare yourself for exertion. The yoga studio for meditative exercise. When you walk into those places there are immediate physical responses that happen . Your heart rate quickens and your breathing becomes measured as you enter the space and know (at times fear) what it is that is about to occur. You garner your strength and you activate that reticular sympathetic system to get everything in place to perform physically demanding movements and push yourself to (and sometimes beyond) your limits. You have expectations of what is about to come and so you prepare yourself mentally for these ‘known’ equations.
So when you have 4 days off and the space and time to wander, relax, be free from time constraints, workplace requests and at times even from family and partners; often you can indulge in finding new and wonderful avenues for self reflection, exploration and generic time wasting that you haven’t had the chance to explore before. This can also serve as a wonderfully distracting procrastination tool. “I can’t possibly work on my BAS statements until I find myself in Venezuela with a river and my gorgeous maid, Conchita bringing me my tea and muffins in the morning”. I wonder how that will go down with the accountant?
But often finding the space to invoke reflection time, invest in personal work of life aims and goals, even in doing that all important ‘me stuff’ is as much about finding the right space as it is about finding the right time. Interestingly, discovering one can actually solve the problem of factoring in the other. When you are actually able to free yourself from responsibility and routine, it is a wonderfully enriching and opportune time to do something different. Beethoven was known to compose whilst wandering the streets of Bonn where he could hear the birds singing, eventually reflected in his Pastoral Symphony. This alone can be the most advantageous action for those tasks that require free-thinking, creativity, projection and wildly imaginative ideas.
Committing to finding the space means you also have to be slightly mindful of what it is that you are looking for that space to create. So you can’t intend NOT to do certain activities. It means you have to ‘take your books with you’ and be prepared to be in the right space for that inspiration to tackle the tax statement. However, just by opening up your mind to the possibility of intending to work on something undesirable, you will end up finding the right space for it. After all, the brain will find the correct answer to the question that you ask of it.
In seeking a space to do something creative like writing, I can’t do it in just any location. I need to find the right space where I will be comfortable and be able to sit, uninhibited and without disruption that will cause my mind to wander and my brain to flit in and out of focus. In this way, finding that desk space in the top floor, or being in the office after hours when everyone else has left is often a necessary evil to complete such objectives that truly do need creative inspiration to get the right mood and factors flowing. In this way as well, when I am looking at creating free flowing brainstorms and creative cryptic forward projecting, the office environment may be too surrounded with the old and the past to allow you to truly open up to the elements and the possibilities that your brain could do!
Jumping in the car and planting the idea firmly in my mind of
a)what I was needing to do that day and
b)focusing on what I wanted to achieve
can sometimes lead you directly to the right space and location to facilitate the creative. Without a time frame and with no commitment to an hour or two or 45 minutes, you are free to explore. Maintaining a broad perspective of time and without the ‘need’ to be anywhere or attend this meeting or that appointment, one can allow the luxury of free-flowing thought to imbue itself into the consciousness and fill the mind with the necessary unencumbered flow of possibilities and opportunities.
So sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and instead of setting down definitive times and dates and deadlines, maybe we should allow the deadlines to be flexible. To not put rushed parameters on tasks. In this way, perhaps we must make space and time to throw away the schedule, go somewhere physically different and in the correct space, find new and wonderful ways to create new thoughts. It’s worth investigating.