Thursday, August 1, 2013

Personal Reflections: Sterile Surroundings

I have been organizing my nook in preparation for back-to-school planning that will begin next week.  I weaned my bookshelves of five bags of books and took them to Half Price so that others might have the opportunity to offer them a good home.  I sorted through office supplies to ensure I had ample pens of various colors, pencils, paper clips of assorted sizes, index cards, and post-it notes.  And I cleared the craft tables of project remnants like scraps of cardstock, assorted rubber stamps, and corresponding ink pads.

Yes, the nook is tidy... not necessarily clean (as dusting and vacuuming are not my strong suit)... but everything is in its proper place.  And while there is a deep feeling of satisfaction that I have a well-maintained area, I also have this nagging feeling as if something is missing.  And surprisingly the word "sterile" came to mind.

Now when I think of "sterile" I immediately imagine a hospital:  solid white walls, shiny linoleum floors, and the unmistakable scent of rubbing alcohol.  Not a place I enjoy visiting.  So why would I associate sterile with my beloved nook where I enjoy spending hours each day?

I decided to look it up in the dictionary and realized that there are two distinct meanings associated with sterile: one matching my image of the hospital, that is disinfectant and germ-free - but the other definition is barren, empty, unfruitful.  At first glance it does not appear that my nook is barren - one look at the loaded bookshelves and overrun craft center would dispel that assertion; and it is certainly not germ-free as the light coating of dust that clings to all flat surfaces would attest.

But then it occurred to me:  my space is empty of any sensory inspiration.  I sit here in silence most of the day, not because I need silence to focus... but because I never think to turn on music.  Why is that?  Music was such a large part of my life in high school.  Why do I deny myself of its richness now?

And while the room does not have the lingering scent of Lysol, it is also lacking any fragrance  whatsoever.  I am always attracted to the pleasing names of the popular three-wick candles - Caribbean Escape, Salted Caramel Latte, Lavender Vanilla - but for some reason I never choose to light one when I am in the room.  

And for the most part, my sense of touch is confined to either the laptop's keyboard or the swipe of the tablet's screen.  I use Pinterest as a virtual dream board rather than cutting magazine images and creating old-fashioned collages; ebooks are slowly replacing the print copies; and writing in a word processor is far more efficient than handwriting.  But what have I compromised in the long run?

Could it be that my desire for a tidy nook has sabotaged my own creative efforts?  Have I inadvertently cast the muse outside the door so that my sterile silenced will not be disturbed?  I complain that my right brain has atrophied, and yet I have established an environment where it cannot flourish.

Well, no longer.

As of today I will reconnect with that music loving girl of high school.  Between iTunes and Pandora, I am bound to find any style of music to match my mood and project.

As of today I will light a candle and allow the pleasing fragrance to transport me, if only for a short while, to a happy place of my choosing.

And while I will not completely give up my valued electronics, I will try to spend a portion of my morning writing the old-fashioned way - with paper and pen.  Slowing down to allow the hand to catch up with the brain could be a good exercise in fully fleshing out ideas.  Gliding the pen across the paper, focusing on the image of connected loops and appropriate dots resembles the act of painting - which is good food for that malnourished right side.

And occasionally reading a book in print, with highlighter in hand, could provide that perfect textile experience that reconnects me with the storytelling muse.

Sterile surroundings?  No longer.  I should like to think of the nook as cozy and inviting, with perhaps just a bit of a mess.

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