As I sweep up breadcrumbs, dog hair, and mysterious food debris from the dining area, I stop to suddenly notice the space underneath the kitchen table. It is just an open space, a worn hardwood floor underneath an old wooden table surrounded by mismatched chairs. Though my legs dangle there quite frequently, I realize it is truly a foreign territory to me. And it’s suddenly rather inviting. I have this overwhelming urge to climb underneath and sit. Having spent a good portion of my childhood inside closets, cupboards, laundry chutes, crawl spaces, hedge tunnels, doghouses, homemade forts, and dress rounds at department stores, I suddenly realize how long it has been since I have crawled underneath anything.
My kitchen table is suddenly more than a table. It is a kitchen fort, a meditation space, a roof without walls open on all sides to three feet of vertical perspective, a refuge. In yoga practice, inverted poses are a means to change one’s perspective and see the world from a different angle (how can you not when the ground becomes the sky?). Crawling under this table is, I realize, just another part of my practice. I am sure of it. So I lean the broom against the counter and crawl underneath the kitchen table. I cross my legs and sit for a few minutes, seeing everything from the ground up to the point where the table cuts off my vision. I cannot see anything that is above 3-feet high, but I can see 360 degrees around me. I see the bottom half of the Christmas tree and several presents. I see my children at the coffee table making paper airplanes. I see my dogs lying on the floor in front of me. I see the legs and seats of the chairs. I see the smudges on the bottoms of my cupboards. I see the window ledge. I see the shit I haven’t yet swept up. I see cracked tile and a few scattered Lego pieces. I see things that I have not really been seeing. I sit there for several minutes with my toddler’s eye view, my internal and external vision expanding and contracting, the tangible informing the intangible.
Both of my kids walk by, glance at me under there, then go about their business, and say nothing. Nothing. Not a single question, remark, funny look, or embarrassed guffaw. I fight the urge to holler at them, to draw their full attention to me, to make them comment on my sitting underneath the kitchen table and ask me what I am doing there when I should be making dinner. I want to share with them my thoughts about perspective, tell them what I’m doing and why! But they don’t need to ask me. They already know. Perspective is something the kids, unlike me, have never lost. To them, what I’m doing is natural and normal and needs no notice or explanation. They do it all the time. Crawling under tables is, like, duh, what you’re supposed to do. So, I'm on it. I vow to crawl under things more often, to transform practical moments into broader perspectives. ... So, if you find yourself at Macy's at the Plaza for a little holiday shopping this week, you might look for me on the second floor, sitting inside the Free People's sales-rack, seeking enlightenment and a good deal on a bitchin' sweater.