I sit at the table, my composition notebooks, journals, pens, and laptop spread out in front of me. It’s a very old wooden table. It’s seen more years and history than I have. It’s older than I may ever be. It’s been around for so long and has been surrounded by so many different people, that it almost has a soul of its own. It’s weathered and worn, smooth, not rough. It’s gotten shiny with age. It still smells like wood, a pleasing scent, a comforting scent. It’s stable, sturdy, and heavy, built in a time when long-term quality was an expectation instead of something that causes surprise or wonderment. The deep dark rich honey color feels warm and inviting. Gather around and sit down, it’s time for a shared meal.
The little nicks, scratches, and scrapes on the table top intrigue this observer. They don’t just tell a story, they tell a library full of stories. Joy, sadness, grief, relief, laughter, anger, resentment, ambivalence, jealousy, hatred, and love, it’s seen them all. Stories that it cannot tell, it cannot share. This table took an oath of secrecy, not by choice, but by destiny.
Put your palms flat on the surface and you will feel like you are touching the past. Close your eyes and you will feel the passion of the builder. Feel the care that went into selecting the right wood. Feel the craftsmanship and the pride that went into creating this testament to the skill of the builder. Feel the craft that was handed down from generation to generation.
The shiny surface would make you think that it would feel cool, but it’s always warm to the touch. I like to think that it has absorbed an eternal warmth from those it has encountered.
My dream is spread across this wonderful table. The builder is gone, but I hope that somehow they know how special it feels for me to use this table to craft my work. This table inspires me. Most would probably never take note of it the way I do. I suspect that few would feel the way I do about a simple table. This table has touched so many lives. When I look at it, I imagine where it has been, who it has encountered, what has been discussed by those that have rested their elbows upon it. I want to reach into this table and pull it all out. I want to experience it all. Feel it, hear it, smell it, breathe it.
I cannot though. I have to settle for my imagination.