When I was a teen, I regularly switched the locations of furniture and wall art in my bedroom. About every four months or so, I’d grow bored of seeing things from the same point of view, and so I’d shift my bed to a different wall, my desk and chair to another corner, my bookcase to a separate location, and so forth. My poor mother never knew quite what to expect when she entered, but I’ve learned that’s par for the course when parenting any teenager, furniture-mover or not.
The thing I liked about altering my room was this: I’d come in after school, temporarily forgetting that I’d made the shifts, and I’d see my room differently for a while. Whether I was lying in bed, sitting at my desk, or occupying some other space, the room seemed like a completely new and alien space. It was great, this secure disorientation.
After some time, though, I began to run out of options. I’d put all the furniture and decor in every possible space they could be. I would have to recycle some old ideas. Even then, shifting things around made my daily routine a little more interesting. I recall waking and taking just the briefest of seconds to recollect that I’d moved things; the room wasn’t the same, at least for a short while.
Last weekend, I conjured up this memory when I decided to rearrange my study. I’ve always been a fan of looking out a window while writing, especially if the view beyond is water, be that a pond, a lake, or an ocean. But lately, the view had grown stale. I was tired of seeing the same thing, not unlike when I was a teen. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I began dragging furniture around upstairs, relocating my heavy desk, bookcase, footlocker, and large reading chair. When I was done, I’d created a whole new space with a more open feel. Ta-da! Fresh perspective. Maybe my adolescent self wasn’t such a bonehead after all.
The other result of such a shift is cleanliness. In order to rearrange, one has to clear the space in question of clutter. Despite whatever we artists might say about our right-brained, pile-generating, free-wheeling sense of organization, structure and order are (sigh) more conducive to producing good work. I think of my stepdad’s workshop when I’m situating my environment: Every screw, nut, bolt, nail, and drill bit had its own home, and while I’m no woodworker, having that kind of fastidious attention to detail is admirable.
What will come from this new arrangement? Hopefully some new poems driven by new thoughts. One can never tell, but I’m eager to see if an unfamiliar view will enhance my creativity. If I could speak to my former self, I’d say thanks for the inspiration, kid. You really were onto something.
2 thoughts on “The Power of Rearrangement”
We all have our way of responding to our environment. My wife is much like you, although I’m not so sure it happens every four months, it’s more random than that, but for me, it’s always too often (I feel bad for the cat when she gives me that “here we go again” look). I prefer stability, similar to the lazy Deep South moss covered oak woodland spectacle I stare at every evening as the sun goes down behind my house. Admittedly, I know the scene does change over time, but the process is for the most part imperceptible, and I like that it appears as it did five years ago (I know better, two monoliths I once admired have succumbed and are no longer there). I never rearranged my room as a kid, and my mother never subverted our house (we did paint the inside once, but the furniture and the wall decor all went back as before). I’m used to things being settled where they sit. I figured out the best scheme for my office when we moved here and it shall stay that way until Armageddon. And yet I am like you in that I get the travel bug on a regular basis. The first years of my life my parents moved us three times before we found roots for about a decade and a half. I then left home at twenty and for the next thirty-five years stayed no place for more than three. Today, after five years in the same home (the longest since my youth), which I love and on an intellectual level at least don’t want to leave, I’ve been going stir crazy aching to pack and go. It doesn’t matter where, I just need the change; a new “unfamiliar view.”
I get it! We all need space where we can think outside ourselves.