The B.C. Table: Before Computer That Is

On my other blog i had shared the following passage recently, found through a (now dead) link that was originally found here:

A Visit with Kathryn: Slowing the Pace

The girls and I recently returned from a five day trip to Florida where we visited my 91 year old grandmother, Kathryn. Kathryn has a ranch home of her own about ten minutes from the sea where she has lived for the past 60 years. She and my grandfather lived there together until his passing 12 years ago. Her home has no microwave, no dishwasher, no internet service. It has one rotary telephone and a television that catches three channels which is only turned on for Jeopardy and the evening news. She makes her coffee in a stove top perculator. She reads the newspaper and does the crossword puzzle each day.

There are many things that I learned from this visit with my grandmother which I plan to blog about but the one thing that most interested me was the way time passed slowly while we were there. There was something so soothing and beautiful about her peaceful life. She was interested in only the task at hand. Whether it was cooking bacon, crocheting a cotton rug or rolling Caddie's hair in rag curls for the night, she was fully there. There's no multi-tasking in my grandmother's world, just a slow, steady persistence and an enjoyment of it all.

Grandma ran the sprinkler for the girls to play in each day. She also filled a small tub of water for them to soak in which she put on her back patio. I thought it would only be a matter of minutes before the girls lost interest in the little tub of water. Grandma supplied them with some plastic cups and they played for hours. Hours! We sat in lawn chairs and watched them, laughing at their crazy antics and letting them pour water on our tired feet.

Each night at around eight o'clock the girls grew sleepy and we put them to bed together, plum tuckered out from a full but simple day. Then, all the dishes being done right after dinner, Grandma and I sat and played rummy or Skip-Bo and talked for the rest of the night. There was no mad rush to get on the computer, no turning on the television, just the sound of the crickets and the gentle hum of our conversation.

I have made it my goal to bring some of that peace home from Kathryn's house. I hope to slow things down here a bit, to take it one thing at a time and savor the rhythm of each day. I want my children (or husband, friends etc, my insert) to remember the crawling of time and the enjoyment of a simple life. I do not want them to remember (one) who spent her days staring at a computer screen, unavailable and unfriendly. I want them to look back and remember (one) sitting in the lawn chair, sipping a lemonade, with nowhere to be but right there.

Sometimes something is so close to your own inner longing that it doesnt let go. Such was this piece. And even deeper, there was a dream in this vein, i recently dreamed i had moved into a new place. It was a cyber instense household wheni first saw it, but then when i moved in it had become an internet free zone all of a sudden. And i was shocked how much more relaxed i felt, things just felt...spacious. I was outside walking a lot in the dream, lots of the time with a child who lived there, taking her on adventures, the library. I was so surprised at how happy i was in the dream.

Well yesterday i went to my table. My place is tiny, there is only one table. And upon it, dominating it, is my laptop. I LOVE my little computer, was so upset that time when water had spilt on it and it seemed to have passed on. I was SO happy when it revived, it was like having an old freind back. I have no intention at all of getting rid of my computer. But this longing just took such root yesterday, a longing that had been building. Though i love my computer, though i am not stopping using it, it still cannot be such a center of my life anymore, and it cannot be the center of my table. So i moved it. It now sits upon my dresser area and i use it standing up. And when im treating myself to an online movie sometimes then the bed is nearby so i think i could just lay or sit there to watch. Its not the ideal solution yet perhaps though, as its physically hard to use it standing up, and wont even be possible when my back flares up. But for now, thats where it is.

And even though i'd had the dream and all that, i was still shocked by just how much better i felt. I kept the computer still on alot available, would check email when i passed by it, visit a site when i felt like it. But i wasnt sitting there with it in front of me all the time drawing me, and there was no "hum" there with me as i sat at my little table. The difference was huge. I could feel the nature outside my window much more strongly, I was just so much more relaxed. I also started noticing little things around the place more, little improvements to make it feel nicer, things i'd not relaxed enough lately to pay attention to perhaps. And made some of those changes, others just took note of, got rid of some more things, organized some paperwork. And somehow the place just feels more peaceful today. A lot got done yesterday and yet i was more relaxed. It was like that spacious feeling in the dream. And having a clear and hum free table, i know it was such a huge part of this.

I havent had a clear table since i got my computer. Ever, all those years. My computer has just always been there. Its a laptop so i used it as a little writing slant too when i closed it up. And when it was time for meals i just put my plate on top. Even when i had my finace over for dinner, we still ate with the computer there. Even on Shabbat when i lit the candles the computer was there on the table. Even when it was closed it was still ...there. (It has to stay in one place as its hard for me with the injury to move it back and forth regluarly, its a heavier type laptop). Last night was the first night in years that i was actually lighting the candles from a clear table. Eating from a clear table. Doing things at a clear table. Its so hard to express what this has meant, i just feel so differently. I run my hands over the table. I do things without rushing, without that hum there.

A sad aspect is that i miss my partner more, i feel his absence more keenly now that the computer is off the table. I feel him missing when i sit to eat especially, long for the time when i can cook for the two of us. But thats okay, thats simply a real feeling coming up. Becuase i've been seeing so much sitting down with dinner dishes and bread and such spread out and at ease, not all cramped. We like to listen to online OTR (old time radio) alot, but this feels SO much nicer having the sound come from the computer thats on the dresser, rather than right there at the table. I moved the candle i light daily to the table last night, and that will be staying. Maybe a flower too, but not much else, this table needs to say open and relaxing and inviting, its become such a deep longing now. And i see us playing games and talking at the table at night once we are settled down, he loves simple pleasures like that as much as i do. I can't wait.

But the clear table, the "B.C." table , i get this little flutter in my stomach that it at least IS here now. Who knew so much happiness could come from simply a clear table?

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