A Window in a Boxed-Up World

I have a window. Yes, I do. I am one of only 10 in my office to have one. Why, you ask? Because someone new needed a place to sit, and my cubicle was it. But why the upgrade? The reason that this valuable piece of office real estate hasn’t been snatched up yet is because the desk is about one-third the size of the other cubicles. That leaves me with barely enough room for my computer monitor and keyboard, my plant that hasn’t died yet (hooray!), and my phone. But no matter. This doesn’t bother me in the least. I have a view to lush, leafy trees and endless sky.

My sister called me on Monday, her first day of classes at her new college. She said, “This place is beautiful!” As an alum of this university, I wholeheartedly agree. The school, founded in the late 1800s, is home to century-old trees. The campus sits right up next to the mountains and is just down the road from the mouth of the canyon, and although it makes for some powerfully windy nights, its views make the often-rough weather worth it. And above all, there are not one but two quads, expanses of grass large enough for several games of soccer or ultimate Frisbee at once.

When I graduated I knew I would miss it. Not just the fun times and good friends I had in my fours years at school, but the freedom I had to roam and wander and be a part of nature.

I am by no means an environmentalist or "tree-hugger." Even though I work for an environmental engineering firm, I don’t rally for any green cause, I don’t exactly live environmentally-friendly, and I have stayed out of the global warming debate. But I just miss the simple joy of walking barefoot in the grass. Living in an apartment complex with no yard of my own doesn’t soothe this feeling of deprivation; but the main thing keeping me from being among the trees and flowers is the same thing allowing me to view it: This window, which is a part of these walls and this whole office and this job and ultimately my entire cubicle-dwelling life.

It doesn’t seem natural. I know one of man’s basic necessities is shelter, but that doesn’t mean he should be confined to it and nothing else. I do appreciate climate control; there’s no getting around that. I just don’t appreciate being chained to one chair, one cubicle all day every day for the bulk of my adult life.

Maybe there are two separate issues here: My separation from nature and my freedom in general. But they are the same in the end because to work in an office is to be imprisoned. There, I said it. I hate being inside all day every day, sitting in front of a computer screen as my eyes go and my thighs expand and my brain begins to recycle the same old information that I shove into it—no new thoughts, only that of what I’m working on today, which was the same as yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day before . . .

So, is it time for me to get a new job? Maybe. We are in a mechanized, paved-over, boxed-up world. So I guess I’ll sit here and just enjoy what little I have of the outdoors, my own private window, before I get back to work.

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