This post is also available in: French

Claude Schryer performs his microcosm blog

This room was once Riel’s and then Clara’s bedroom but more recently it serves as my zazen room, a guest bedroom, a quiet space and a sound editing studio. 

These days, it also serves as my COVID-19 quarantine quarters and my temporary work office.

It’s 9 feet by 10 feet and is situated in the north-west corner on the second floor of our duplex in Sandy Hill, Ottawa.

The room contains the following items (in alphabetical order):

  • air and countless particles of dust
  • artwork from a found auto part by my mother Jeannine
  • blanket
  • blinds for the window
  • box of tissues
  • butsudan made of a yellow birch log from the cottage with a candle, matches and an incense bowl with rice to hold ashes
  • cables and power cord for electronics
  • cedar branch from the cottage leaning on an angle towards to the south 
  • ceiling light with four fan blades
  • ceiling plant hook
  • chi
  • cleaning cloth held on a white nail
  • closet with off season clothes, a rack of rarely used clothes, a portable recording booth, a box of rice crackers, a can of sardines, archives and recording accessories
  • container with audio recording equipment and accessories for recording soundscapes and podcasts
  • door frame and door with a hook and towel
  • duvet for sleeping
  • foot stool that can also serve as a meditation bench
  • half-filled glass of water
  • hardwood wood floor with white baseboards 
  • headphones
  • heat duct with white grid
  • lap desk platform held on a white nail
  • laptop from work with cordless mouse
  • LED reading light on the wall
  • light and shadows from the streetlights at nightlight
  • light and shadows from the sun through the room window and from 2nd floor windows when the door is open
  • light switch
  • macbook laptop, iPad and iPhone for editing and to connect with the world
  • my body
  • pair of glasses
  • persian carpet with underlay for yoga
  • piano bench for zazen practice
  • queen-size bed for sleeping that when folded up serves as a sitting area for work
  • radio to listen to CBC when spinning
  • sheet of paper tapped to the wall with plans for the conscient podcast
  • side wooden table
  • sounds from inside the house
  • sounds of cars passing
  • sounds of me moving in the room 
  • spin bike and shoes 
  • three sheets of paper tapped to the wall with retirement plans and letter to a Zen monk 
  • two electric plugs
  • two pillows for sleep and back posture while sitting on the couch 
  • two yin-yang magnets on doorknobs
  • water bottle from Bridgehead that I also use for herbal tea
  • white painted drywall and plaster walls
  • wifi signals from the 1st floor 
  • window with two panels looking westward
  • wireless signal for iPhone
  • world summit of arts and culture carry bag

My point in making this list was to appreciate everything in the room, to think about where the materials came from (including what ecosystems might have been destroyed to ensure my comfort), to consider who was involved in their making these things (and were fair wages paid) and to be aware that all of these elements—both the visible and the invisible—are interconnected, the way we are all now, through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A microcosm.

I know it seems banal to simply list these things, but for me, now, this exercise was a way to connect with the immediate and to be in this place, in this moment.

After all, I spend about 22 hours a day in these quarters under quarantine: I might as well be conscient of what is in it.

Note: an audio version of this blog will be available soon on the conscient podcast.


This blog was published as part of the Essays collection by arts everywhere by Musagetes on May 22, 2020

Published by Claude Schryer

Franco Ontarian sound and media artist, arts administrator, cultural worker, zen practionner, former manager and senior strategic advisor at Canada Council for the Arts (1999-2020)

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