A week or so ago, I freaked some people at work out completely. Although I didn’t have as many personal items at my day job as some folks do, I did have enough to fill up two small boxes. It probably would have all fit inside one copy paper-sized box, I think. It was little odds and ends. Things that somehow migrated to work, that I decided it was time to take home. It freaked people out because it had been a hard week. A week where I really questioned my future and the future of my family. A week that made me remember that what’s important in life is not the 8 hours a day that is spent there; it’s what happens the other 16.
I have a new study in my house. I love it. It is exactly what I’ve dreamed about for many years – a place where I can work in solitude, read in solitude, and have a nice view of the outdoors. It has wonderful bookshelves that now house my collection of old law books and a few other nice specimens. It has enough room for the green books my Mamaw gave me, enough room for my white cabinet with some of most-prized possessions, and my side chair. It also has some reclaimed furniture I got from our warehouse, pieces that we were giving away for lack of room. I know the previous owner of the desk, and I sit with pride behind it, thinking of the many business deals he did while he worked with us all those years. It makes me smile. It has a huge scratch down the center that doesn’t bother me, but that would have been seen as “unsavory”, I’m sure, by those among us who are a little more snobbish when it comes to their office furnishings. It’s amazing what people get hung up on at work.
When I packed those things to bring them home, even my daughter asked me if I quit. Several others, who knew about my internal strife, asked the same things. I brought home artwork. Books. Photos. The things that people have in their offices to give them little reminders throughout the day that there is a great big world out there that isn’t anything like work. I decided I didn’t need any of those things anymore. I don’t need them because it’s not my focus. I’ve decided to focus on the “Other 16” as I’ve started calling it. The important part of my life where people don’t get angry about laminate colors, slippery chairs that aren’t really slippery, and where respect is shown all 16 of those hours. It’s been an amazing and uplifting experiene, really.
Those things that I needed to remind me of the Other 16 are now comfortably resting in my study, amongst those prize possessions that I hold so dear. I get to look at them as much as I like. I smile when I see that glass award, that genie jar, and that small bottle of sand from Ventura Beach, California. I giggle at Hootie, a small stuffed owl that I have had at every job in my entire adult life since college. I have my Dammit Doll that my son, knowing me too well, knew that I would probably need it. I did use it, but lately I’ve come to the realization that none of those things helped. My day was still just the same. It didn’t make those people like green laminate. It didn’t make them see how good my proposals were written. It didn’t make them do anything. It did give me comfort, but only for those 8 hours.
Now, I’m concentrating on the Other 16. And if feels really good.