Effectiveness is deemed by some to have a lot to do with the ability to think in compartments. The thicker and more soundproof the walls between those compartments, the more you impress. As you sit at your desk and stare at your inkhorn in that damp bone-walled cell, you need to make sure that it’s impossible to hear the voices from the other rooms.
Sometimes I think I’ve lived from birth in an open plan mental space with no compartments at all. A flickering light bulb fifty feet away needs attention. Finish that report first? No. I think it needs attention now. On the way back from repairing that minor electrical fault I happen to notice that my collection of paperclips is no longer in strict alphabetical order, so that gets rectified. Report writing is now all the more fun because harmony once more reigns in your open plan head.
Walls can be built, taken down and moved. You can work on the soundproofing of walls. Walls can be torn down too, by events or information that will ‘blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday’. Often the effect of that is akin to gazing at clouds along the wing of a plane and then suddenly experiencing decompression as a hole is ripped in the fuselage by a capricious gremlin with long fingernails. The sea life and the cold salty waves below attain instant significance. If you make it back to the tarmac, it’s likely that no-one will believe you about the gremlin. They’ll put the scratch marks on the wing down to some rare form of turbulence.
Turbulence. There’s a thing. Perceive it only at the limits of your blurred vision and the chances are it will overwhelm you before you can say ‘life’s but a walking shadow’; but perceive it with too acute an eye and you will make of it a lumbering drunken leviathan in a field of poppies. Tough call.
In other news, stepping into the literal world for a spell, this is the Easter break. Next week there’s a family trip up to Caithness to carry on sorting out my mum’s stuff and to do some celebrating of her. I have to retrieve her ashes from the ‘rest room’ at the funeral directors in Wick. The UK weather seems determined to remain cold, with the wind originating in the East as it did when I was up there in January. Perhaps Mum is best off in a jar in a warm room, rather than being scattered to damp earth or wild sea. I think of her caravan a great deal, with its compartments, now cold and dark. I think of the chair that she died in. The compartment where she slept is as she left it, but that must change. The small but numerous ingenious tweaks she made to her environment will I believe always be evident, as will the trees she planted. I love her so very much.
There have been times when the absence of walls between the compartments has not seemed an impediment to happiness. Those times I have spent looking at the sea.