Monday Musings…. Ode to an Office

Four days…. In four days, I’ll no longer be a cellar dweller. No longer a bottom feeder. Let me tell you, it’s a whole other world working in the basement of the college. When my colleagues first heard that I was going from the second floor to level zero, they were concerned I would struggle with the lack of sunlight, the inconvenience of climbing two stories to get to the photocopier, or the shortage of social interaction with other staff. But those concerns were never an issue for me. In fact, I looked at each day as an adventure!

I’ve always been one to embrace change. It’s been a part of my life from the get go. I moved around almost every three years as a kid. I lived in a new dwelling every year in my undergrad. My husband and I relocated about 7 times in the same city in the first 4 years of marriage. I’ve lived in wealth and in poverty. I’ve resided in big cities and in small towns, and even in remote areas. I’ve even lived in a foreign country. So, you would think this move would be pretty easy to adjust to. Apparently not.

I didn’t realize the degree of the impact this impending move was having on me until I had to pack up a poster that was made for me by a student when I first took up residency in the basement. Seeing her artistry, reading her words, and reflecting on all of the work done in and through that office came over me like a tidal wave. You see, that physical space became an oasis for me. It felt like I was on a luxury yacht where I had the space and the freedom to create a substantial body of work and research that fuelled my passion in mental health. I was charting a different territory than my fellow professors and I enjoyed every minute of it. I found great solace in that sanctuary.

But it wasn’t only a haven for me - countless students, staff, and even strangers walked through that door looking for a listening ear, a piece of advice, a shoulder to cry on, or a place to simply vent. Being off the beaten track proved to be an excellent advantage and attraction for those who otherwise might never speak to someone about their pain. The office became their space and their comfort. And in four short days it will be gone.

I know it is just a physical space. It is just a room. As if the word ‘just’ makes the looming exit easier to accept. But as I open up the door today, I will face four walls that now lay bare. There are boxes lined up neatly displaying books and binders, baubles and bins, ready for their transport into storage. As I look around, all that has transpired in that room is slowly fading into the mist of memory. My luxury liner is leaving port without me and I will soon be floating in a rubber dingy as I ascend to the white-water rapids on the second floor. Conversations and contacts will never be the same. There will be no room for personal effects, no reminders of work accomplished or lives changed. Farewell dear office! Thank you for your service.

Change is one of those things we need to constantly and consciously anticipate. And when it comes our way, resistance is futile. I can mourn what is past or choose to have an attitude of gratitude for the time well spent. There is no going back in life. We only move forward. So, I will try hard to heed the words on the poster and trust that no matter where I go, my world will be filled with the unexpected and the wondrous! It won’t be easy to always keep that attitude. I know that. But when things are beyond our control, we must choose a mindset that will keep us afloat!

Maybe change is on your horizon too, or you are going through something difficult right now. I like the lyrics from “It’s Gonna Get Better” by Stars Go Dim: “I've walked through the valley, the shadow. I'm ready for all You have for me, all You have for me. It's gonna get better” Onward and upward!


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