Tuesday, July 11, 2006


It’s been more than two weeks now that my office has been closed because of flooding. I spent the first week at home, drying out my basement, cleaning out my gutters, and pulling out my hair. The second week, I was on vacation, swimming in the Caribbean, climbing Mayan temples, and eating a mix of Continental and Mexican cuisine.
Now, I’m back at work, but not in my usual place. My entire office has been given far flung temporary quarters in one of my agency’s nearby buildings. I’m driving the beltway, rather than taking the tube. Resources I need to work are in my normal office, which is currently dark, hot, humid, and 10 miles away. My normal venue for lunchtime Taiji is steps from the other building. I’ve been getting increasingly grouchy.
Separated from my coworkers, and my office, I am reminded of Emerson: “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society.”
Between my travel and my temporary relocation, my normal order has been upset and I’ve found some of Emerson’s reflective solitude. This has me thinking about what I’m doing, what I want, and where I’m headed. I’ve given these subjects a great deal of time lately, but I had gotten stalled. Spending more time thinking about them was producing fewer results, and the answers seemed to stay one step ahead of my brain. A trip to the jungle and to a new maze of cubicles seems to be closing the distance.
I thought at first that it was curious that all of this could come out of simply changing my surroundings, but I’m beginning to understand that it’s not really the environment that is changing. Sure, I’ve been in these places and hadn’t before, but my brief and innocuous presence is barely to be noticed and does not leave an indelible mark. These places remain substantially they way they were before I visited. No, the change is mine.

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