July 21, 2021: My workspace is not a place

July 21, 2021: My workspace is not a place. From the beginning of the pandemic I retreated to holes to work. There are no windows there. There is no outside light there. There is only entrance and one exit. The big screen wall can show me the outside world through strategically placed cameras. The front yard, the back yard the camera at Yellowstone, the Redondo Beach, and the Big Ben. I do not have to move from one chair, my background is blurred out, I stay as a face on the screen. I have created two such workspaces. No outside light comes in, everything is controlled by a series of computers that reminds me of meetings and classes and gatherings with the gentle sound of Tchaikovsky. In each of these spaces time ceases to exist because time and light are connected. The sun. The night. The lightnings. They all disappear in these spaces. The large projection on the walls take me to the places I want to visit. The deer in the front yard triggers an alarm and I can look out. A catastrophic failure of systems triggers another alarm, and I can check in. On the other side of the real World. Many are in such spaces. Many were in such spaces before the pandemic. To me there is comfort in this space. In this time-less and place-less cocoon where the music is the same, the same playlists, where I am in place. Natural light is a distraction. In the meeting few minutes ago, the twilight behind the other person, the pines and the sound of birds chirping suddenly moved me from my space, with my cup of coffee, to a different World – of light and sound. In the future many may be duplicating these spaces where everything is the same, down to the detail of the coffee cup. Two cups. Two spaces. They look identical. To those looking at my space on their screens, I become an image, same white collared shirt, similar ties if needed, same cup, same voice, same circles under my eyes. The only thing that matters is presence. Am I there, can I answer the call? This is the lesson from the pandemic. In everything. Being there. Not in person, because we are not allowed to. This is the innovation we need. Doing our work without being there. This is difficult in many professions, but we have faced difficulties before, and we have innovated because there was a desire to innovate. There was the will to innovate. Now it seems, life has been colonized by the luddites and bean counters where a fear of technology and the anxiety of lost revenue is driving a return to the status quo as the Delta smiles at us, and seems to say, “You really think so!” In my life there are people whose entire livelihood is dependent on place. Without the place their life stops. How do you entertain without a real audience? How do you experiment without a centrifuge? The challenges are massive there, but then there are others who hanker to return to places only because they want to, not exploring how to create a presence without place. This is the challenge of the pandemic. It is testing us, asking as to reconsider, offering an opportunity, presence without place. I have a sense the virus will eventually have the last laugh. In a month I am back in a classroom. And COVID-19 has a delta of a smile on its unmasked face, and the cruel words of Alice Cooper, “Goodbye, Little Betty”


Unknown said…
The song was a first .... Killer !!
White haired teenager said…
Glad you enjoyed Alice Cooper
Sonia said…
Very thought provoking Ananda and as usual your eloquence never ceases to move your reader. I’ve been thinking similarly. We have been told time to get back. Get vaccinated or wear a mask. There’s safety in the vaccine. Well I am vaccinated, but left wondering, what does the future hold? The question lingers and only time will respond to it.

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