My writing room is six feet wide by seven feet long. I know the dimensions exactly because every week or so, I decide I can't possibly work another minute in here without changing the space.
I love to rearrange. Sometimes, I will get up during the night and move things around. Often, I'll need to return everything back to the original location, but that doesn't seem to matter. It's like an itch. I HAVE to do it.
I've dragged rugs from room to room, pushed a piano through the house. Once, I placed dishtowels like stepping stones on the floor and slid a credenza from one side of the room to another (and back again). My scars, accumulated over years of remarkable if inadvised heavy lifting, are evidenced in my medicine cabinet where vials are lined up like little amber pilings with matching twist-off caps.
My writing desk is affixed to the wall. It's beautiful and I love it, but it cannot be moved. I have a desk chair and fainting sofa that gets a lot of use. As far as furniture goes, that's it. A chair, a sofa and a trash can. I count the trash can as a design element.
This morning, I stood in the doorway of my room and thought, something is not right. I moved the trash can to one side, I slid the chair into the hall. With only the sofa left, the room was as spirited as a broom closet. I was about to get depressed, but then I remembered feng shui.
Feng shui, for those who enjoy definitions, is a Chinese system for positioning objects in a way that is thought to agree with spiritual forces and to bring health and happiness.
I got busy right away, doing research, making lists and collecting materials. I'd need something red for inspiration and energy, something blue/grey for calm. I tried to find a mirror that would deflect the flatness of the empty wall in front of me, but the only one I have is a lighted, magnifying mirror designed to turn the human face into a pitted and discolored moon-scape so I ditched that idea and hung a picture of my dog instead.
I de-cluttered my desk and moved stacks of books from one shelf to another, clearing the space above my head to increase positive chi, even though I'm still not entirely sure what that means. I assembled my index-card-collection of inspirational quotes into a triangular design (capturing the feng shui symbol for fire) and attempted to mount the cards on the wall near the doorway. What better way to start the writing day than with a burst of fire energy? Unfortunately, that project was thwarted by a scroll of double-stick tape that refused to unroll, leaving me with clenched teeth and a tense neck, wondering if the triangle is too energetic for me.
Further time-consuming feng shui research explained how every element in a room (even those hidden in corners) emanated distinct energy, energy that influenced mood, clarity and even creativity. I got rid of the broken lamp behind my computer, the boxing gloves I bought during one of my manic exercise phases, the carton of extra filters for the coffee maker.
I placed a plant near the window. I wiped the floor around the baseboards and moved the electrical plug to a different socket. Then, I slid my desk chair back into the room and looked around. Not much had changed. It was neater, for sure. Roomier even. My desk was too clean to use.
I decided to test out the new energy in the room by lying completely still on the sofa and closing my eyes.
And now that I'm awake and rested I can report with some degree of expertise: Feng shui works.