Finding Delight in the Middle of Chaos

After twelve years of living in the same tiny house and rearranging the furniture at least twice a year, you would think I would have exhausted the possibilities. But this week, forced by the necessity of exposing the walls for painting, I found a new arrangement that tickles me.

The chaos of tarped up tables, tiers of boxes and tiny pathways had lost it’s charm. I was ripe for something different. Including a writing desk which I disassembled months ago in favor of a “reading room”.


I needed to finish painting a certain section of ceiling before I could unveil the dining room table and the Reliance jars filled with rice, lentils, raisins. In the middle of our summer heat wave, windows wide open to the scant breezes, I rolled the second coat of Fuzzy Sheep, shoulders aching, but determined to get my carrot. At exactly 4pm, I pulled the white cover from the herded furniture like a magician, with flourish. Then I began arranging what I had seen in my mind, making sure to keep the walls free for the next portion of painting.

With each step, I lovingly cleaned and organized, putting the table in the center and building around it. The bookshelf of jars went on one edge, facing the kitchen, chairs on the south and west side, and to the north, my moment of brilliance, the writing desk. I didn’t think I would miss it as much as I did. In fact, I wasn’t writing much without it.

Joseph Campbell said

This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be, This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

As it turns out, my writing desk was my sacred space. A place holder for my creative process. An invitation inward. Without it, I wandered. Lost focus. Abandoned the practice of writing.

When I set the new one in place, I felt triumphant, like an Olympian making the final, perfect dismount from the parallel bars. And this, in the middle of disruption. In the middle of paint cans and wrapped rollers and joint compound drying slowly.

12 Thoughts

  1. I have been wondering how your painting project turned out! Your home looks so charming. I like the quote from Joseph Campbell. My husband often catches me blankly staring into space as I sit outside among nature and he thinks something is wrong with me. He just doesn’t get, I’m in my happy place!

  2. Can’t wait to see the finished product. My favorite space for writing is in my lap. I sit in the cushy loveseat facing my view of the harbor. After staring out for a time, ideas sometimes have to fight for space. I prefer writing in my lap with a large, childlike picture book substituting for a desktop. A perfect surface for my yellow tablet. Sadly, summer opportunities have been usurping my writing life. Thanks for the reminder to “get back to it.”

    1. That’s so interesting. I tried to do the lap thing, but the cats were always vying for equal time and I also found it difficult to do my free writes without a good, solid surface beneath me. Plus, something about the actual desk, instead of a multipurpose chair, says “write!”

  3. Finding delight in the middle of chaos…these are some helpful words in the middle of my torn apart home due to the chaos of flea infestation….will this inspire creativity? Bring back my passion for writing? Not sure..but thanks to you I am looking for delight in the middle of chaos.

  4. loveloveLOVE! your new creative space, carved out of the chaos! Hooray for YOU!! ( and LOVE the pic of the tails w/ the typewriter… that one is a prize winner!)
    needed the inspiration today… my wee cabin gets smaller by the day and I am feeling kinda crazy…. today we will re-arrange!

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I loved the tails in the pic too. Might have to think of something to do with that one. And as far as your wee cabin, I don’t know how you are doing it. I get a little crazy and there is only one person living here!! Hope relief is in sight!!

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