Open Space Is For the Mind

In the movie Office Space, cubicle worker Peter Gibbons is desperately unhappy with his job. As part of a hypnosis-induced streak of little (and not so little) acts of revolt, he tears down one of his cubicle walls and is rewarded with a nice view of the outside world.

Below a video essay about the film, one commenter remarks: “I’m in my 40s. I remember not liking cubicles. Today, it’s impossible to find a cube. Every office is ‘open,’ and it truly is hell on earth. Everyone ‘knocked down’ their wall for a better view, and well, it turned out to be a far worse scenario. Getting rid of cubicles was a dream we all lived to see become a collective waking nightmare.”

Where four tiny, gray-fabric-clad walls may have cut us off too much from nature and each other, thus making us depressed, removing those walls has made us hypersensitive, barraged by a non-stop torrent of noise, chatter, and data, thus overwhelming us in a different way yet overwhelming us all the same.

In reality, open space is for the mind. That’s where we need it. The brain is the part that must run free, more so than our body. We can sit at home, in a cubicle, or in a bean bag amidst a busy crowd — if our mind is calm, we’ll have all the space we need. The space to think, to invent, and to process. A room where we can create, build, and restructure, before translating the result into the physical world.

Meditation is one way, but it sure isn’t the only one. Maybe hypnosis is another, which is why in the movie, Peter is zen’d out no matter what happens at work. Our path to calm we must find ourselves, but when we do, we’ll realize: The number of walls in our office is irrelevant as long as we tear down the ones in our minds.