Spaces Between Places

An office is a nice thing to have.

My offices tend to be a little chilly, clean, and informal. A comfortable chair and a desk of appropriate height. I can work from such a place, and I can work from there often. But I seldom glean new inspiration while in an office. I can tell past tales, but I don’t usually live new ones.

Home is another location I commonly work from. There are almost always elements of the office in my home, though the formality is stepped down a notch. It’s more comfortable than chilly. I can sit at a desk, at a kitchen table, or on a couch. I can lay in bed and rest my computer on my lap. I find it easier to really pull out details during a session of work done at home, probably because I feel comfortable ruminating rather than strictly delivering. The distinction is an important one.

But of all the places I work from, the spaces between places are my favorite.

These spaces are airport terminals, hotel lobbies, and coffee shops. Maybe a park bench or a moving train or someone else’s living room.

The place is irrelevant to the process, actually: it’s my status that matters. In transit. Moving from one place to another. The act of action, the feel of energy being expended and momentum building, that’s when I’m at my best. That’s when I’m writing as I live, working as I do, and producing as a byproduct. That’s when my work is the most honest and free and accurate and me.

But I can’t always be between offices and homes. If I was, I wouldn’t really be between anything, would I? The downtime, or rather, the slightly less up-time, is a necessary component of the entire operation.

Without the stable, sentry-like goal posts of office- and home-life, I wouldn’t know what to aim for.

Update: April 9, 2017

Starbucks eventually branded this concept of space between places as ‘third places,’ though they stole the idea from European caf├ęs. In some cultures, the concept of places apart from home and work are absolutely vital, and in some of my homes, I’ve had an amazing coffee shop or library or the like that serves this need. In others, I’ve had to set aside some part of my home to make it work; someplace that isn’t for working or living, but where both things happen from time to time.

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