Friday, March 17, 2006

The Cubicle As Oasis

Last night I was interviewed on Christopher Lydon's "Open Source" radio show broadcast from Lowell, outside of Boston, Massachusetts. My role was to be the "mess," and I was chided for having a few half-full cups of coffee on my desk. (I did clean them before I went home!). Anyway that was all in good fun.

But Chris asked one question that captured my imagination: Why are so many people interested in getting organized, or de-cluttering?

And I have an opinion on that, based on no knowledge whatsoever, just my feelings.

I think the world feels increasingly chaotic. We have a war in Iraq with no end in sight. Oil prices continue to increase, which touches us daily in how we heat our homes and use our cars, both so fundamental to our ordinary pursuits. There is a widening gap between the rich and the poor and the opportunities don't seem as promising, not only for us, but also for our children. On a very micro-level, our jobs here at the Philadelphia Inquirer don't feel as secure as they once did now that our company is being sold.

To me, organizing is about a sense of control and order in a disorderly world. If we can manage our little eight-by-eight foot cubicle and create a calm oasis, we can have refuge from the world. And then, from our cubicle oasis, we can, perhaps, gain the strength to move confidently into the chaos, whether it be corporate or global.

It's really survival of the spirit and not just a silly obsession over clean coffee cups.

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