Honor thy error as a hidden intention.—Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt, Oblique Strategies deck
There was an unwanted punctuation mark in my day yesterday when I managed to knock over the nice stainless double-walled tumbler I keep on my desk for water. Being freshly filled, I caused a tsunami, inasmuch as roughly 600cc of water constitutes a tsunami as the scale of a desk, that managed to soak literally every bit of clutter on my desk before pouring down one side into a rather nice art book of military nude photography from World War II, my gratitude journal, the review copy of my book manuscript, and a pocket copy of the Le Guin essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” and a few effects pedals in a shoebox.
There was a panicked evacuation of the desktop clutter to the bed on the other side of my room, a great sopping with a beach towel, and the utterance of a surprisingly restrained series of adult words, phrases, and concepts, followed by some amount of wallowing in feelings of grim exasperation, as I stood there, playing a hairdryer over the splayed pages of a rather nice art book of military nude photography from World War II, that my books all seem destined to eventually die in floods.
When everything was dried out, I paused to reflect, letting the bare desk speak to me, and noticed that my monitor speakers actually sound considerably better when placed more widely and at a distance, with the wall to enhance the bass response from the rear-facing ports, and that my desk, when not loaded with clutter, is an inviting and emotionally cool space where things can happen, and I resolved to revise how I work to combat my tendency to load up horizontal surfaces with the multitude of little things that, as the stacks get taller and less stable, inhibit my desire to work, either creatively or in pursuit of a paycheck.
When the water flows away, the shape of its passing is left behind like a dry riverbed, to remind us that it will return in its own time, without warning or opportunity for preparation, and what happens next comes down to how we live in the meantime.
I replaced my nice stainless double-walled tumbler with a smaller teacup with a lower center of gravity and less capacity, and now I will have to get up more frequently to fill it, and this, too, is a useful lesson learned in a flood.
@2022 Joe Belknap Wall