I hope I hide it well…but that can be a dangerous and naive presumption. I’m at my best when convergent; and yet the divergent part is essential to the inclusiveness of the creative process.

I’m rambling on in a manner that is plainly self-indulgent, so let me explain…

It’s what I’ve come to think of as the ‘duff desktop’ that I’m musing about. The ‘non-duff desktop’ is what I briefly achieve when I clean up my writing desk; at the end giving it that swish of spray polish to add the all important smell of cleanliness to complement the pristine sense of clean space, of creative potential. At that moment, I look down and say to it, and myself, ‘And you are never going to look that bad, again!’

It’s as though I am scolding the simple wooden surface – implicated in the inevitable regeneration of the nests of paper scraps, books with ten bookmarks, fourteen pens, five notebooks of various sizes, electrical chargers and USB connectors, bills and bank statements; all of which rise, organically, from the ruin of my last ‘non-duff desktop’.

The regenerate piles, with better genes than Daleks, rise triumphant from the wooden battlefield no matter how strong my resolution…

What is it?! One would think that the sheer joy of having that creative space cleared would propel the discipline needed to keep it that way! But it doesn’t; so I am reduced to humbly considering the flaws in my character that result in this mis-match of intent and performance.

It’s all about the horizontal, really. The essential bits could all be stacked vertically if I could devise a pigeon-hole system large enough and stable enough. It would, of course, look ridiculous; and would confirm my flawed character and borderline insanity to any visitor to that hallowed space – ‘Marvellous, Steve, is it an art installation? Or perhaps a political statement?’

I would cringe behind my thin-lipped smile and take the beating… Ouch.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the horizontal. My theoretical vertical stack is not the solution, but the horizontal is the problem. We love the horizontal because, in theory, that flat space lets us see everything at once. All the logically-linked chains of ideas and sources of inspiration lie before us, connected in a way that only our genius can fathom… if we could just remember it, three weeks on.

The vertical tidy can be implemented in hundreds of virtual ways, of course, and I’ve lost track of the file, spreadsheet and folder structures that I’ve created over the years to solve all this.. which just emphasises the culprit. Mea Culpa...

Time is the other problem. The reason that I can’t find that must-have quote about William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I’s Chancellor – needed for the next description of the Silent Eye’s April Workshop, the Jewel in the Claw, is that we’ve done a hundred dog-walks, eaten a fair few meals and dealt with a dozen family crises since I put it there… if I could just remember where there was. It shouldn’t be difficult, since it is, literally, under my nose…somewhere.

So, beyond a cursory and pre-doomed shuffling of the heap, I don’t bother looking. Instead, I swing my chair around to face the computer screen, again, and let Google do the hard part.

‘I’ll fix it at the next clean-up,’ I resolve to myself, aloud and through tight lips, as I key in ‘William Cecil famous quotations’.



Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence via low-cost supervised correspondence courses.

His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com

©Stephen Tanham

18 Comments on “Vertical disintegration

  1. You have just described my working day. I spend as much time looking for things as actually using them. I tend to keep everything, and therin lies the problem. You know the thing you’re looking for has to be there somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always happier with an eclectic ‘lived-in’ workspace rather than the minimalist ‘show-home’ variety… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Vertical disintegration – Sun in Gemini | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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