by Marn Norwich
Coworking is not a choice for me. It is the only way I can imagine working as a self-employed contractor and consultant. I discovered years ago that I wasn’t built for isolation. In my opinion, no one really is. I realized at some point that if I was going to continue working for myself, it was not going to be by myself. Working alone made me crazy, and it seemed to me that my state of mind had better figure into my career options.
My various coworking spaces situate me by design in the epicentre of the thrum of life on Vancouver’s east side. I work surrounded by artists, writers, politicos, filmmakers, students, young mothers and refugees. Sometimes my coworkers interrupt my work to talk with me about the books they’re writing, the events they’re organizing, their griefs, their hard-won victories. I welcome these interruptions to my work. Not only do these people connect me with the world beyond my projects, they inspire me in ways I could not have planned or imagined. They open me to new ideas, impress me with their courage, move me with the strength of their vulnerability. Their tales and the memory of these connections travel home with me at the end of my day and kindle my life force long into often-solitary nights of work.
On days when I feel wounded by circumstance, I leave home and head toward my coworking space with the conscious intention that the community, like an energetic salve, will heal my despair. I am never disappointed. Just walking along the street toward my space of choice and silently or actually interacting with my people initiates my shift. Subtle at first, but by the time I enter my coworking space and find my seat, I am already soothed by the familiarity of the venue, the acknowledgment (and sometimes excitement!) of my coworkers, the friendly bustle of community at work and at play.
Whoever initiated the divide between work, community and play had it all wrong. I used to be a Puritan workaholic, purified by my eight hours of daily labour, constantly frustrated by the way life could take a workday sideways and derail my perfect record.
Coworking has taught me that our best work occurs when we are ready to do it. Then, it unfurls rapidly and with an efficiency we could not have ordained. It has taught me that the “interruptions” I experience can be the very fuel that my work requires to keep me focused, keep me going and keep me learning along the way. Most important, coworking has demonstrated consistently that no aspect of my life is disconnected from my heart. My coworkers⎯friends, acquaintances and strangers⎯through the simple act of sharing some aspect of themselves, nourish me at a fundamental level necessary to my work on this planet.