“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
― John le Carré
While I was eating lunch with friends recently, my young friend Caroline left us to take a nap while her mother enjoyed a visit with the adults. Caroline poked her head back out the bedroom door and said, “I need to tell you a story.” Her mother looked at us and remarked, “She has such FOMO.” I, at first, thought she was using some pretty strong language for an almost three-year old. “FOMO?” I asked. “Fear of Missing Out,” she responded. Wow, that might explain a lot in my own life.
You see, my desk is placed in front of a window because I don’t want to miss a thing that is going on outside. In fact, if I hear birds singing through our fairly well-insulated windows, I race with my camera to find the birds. I must have FOMO, and like many people, I’m just glad to have a name for my ‘condition’.
le Carre’s words remind me that there is danger in viewing life from one vantage point all of the time, be it sitting at a desk or simply a way of looking at life. In as much as I don’t want to miss out on anything, I sometimes find that I have locked myself into a way of doing or thinking that has caused me to miss out on much.
Where are you tied to a comfort zone? Think of places you regularly visit to eat, drink, worship, dance, hunt, shop–I don’t know what all you do, so I’m trying to be broad here. The truth is, we get comfortable. In church, people tend to sit in the same pew. In the classroom, students often choose the same seat. In a coffee shop, we might sit at the same table each visit. And I, I choose the same window from which to view the birds.
I ventured a little further when one of my sons left home. His upstairs window has a ‘birds-eye’ view of the feeders, so I sometimes sit up there to watch and take pictures. That is as far as I had ventured from my desk, until the other day. I happened to be in another room in our house and glanced out the window to our backyard. I ran to get my camera and hoped he would still be there. There he was. “He” a beautiful bluebird. Bluebirds never come into the yard where the feeders are, so this was a magical site! With his rust-colored chest and beautiful blue top feathers, he sat on a branch not far from the house, bringing color into an otherwise gray day. Oh, the difference it makes when we are willing to change our view!
Changing the way ‘it’s always been’ might be the difference between status quo and really living.
If you change your view, if you shake things up, you might see things you never knew were there, right under your nose. Yes, you might say you could find freedom. Changing your physical view of something isn’t the only way you can have a new way of seeing things. Allowing for differences in the people you know who have social, religious, or political views unlike yours, opens you to possibilities you might not be able to imagine just now.
An interesting statistic I found in several places suggests that 90% of us stay within our comfort zone. One source had a picture with “comfort zone” inside a circle and “where the magic happens” outside of that circle. What if you opened yourself to the possibility of a new view of people, of your situation, and of your way of doing things? Where is magic happening that you might be missing?
- Take a different route to work or school. When we travel the same path every day, we tend to overlook the sights along the road.
- If you always sit in the same seat at a coffee shop, meeting, or church, try sitting someplace completely different and notice the people, windows, sounds, or art that you have missed before.
- Wear a color unlike your normally safe attire. If you always wear beige, throw in a splash of color. Watch to see if you feel more alive.
- When you are with a group of people, talk to someone you normally avoid. Chances are both of you will be glad for the opening of dialogue.
My husband made me promise years ago that if anything ever happened to his sight I would stop changing the furniture arrangement. I change the placement of things in my home for the same reason that looking out a different window brightened my day–it’s brings a freeing freshness to life.
In the seemingly never-ending grayness of one day leading into the next lately, it is the possibility of finding freedom, magic, and a fuller life that draws me away from the dangers of my desk. You need it, too. So, shake things up, change your view, and open yourself up to great possibilities. Maybe I’ll see you from my new seat at the coffee shop.