The other day I was hunting for a friend's office at the university where I work. Though I know the roads and sidewalks around campus like the back of my hand at this point, I became acutely aware that I don't often venture into the buildings themselves, much less wander hallways and pop my head into classrooms. That's where so much of the best stuff happens, though, and I felt chastened for my lack of curiosity heretofore by the doors propped open along the hallway.
"Come inside," they seemed to whisper. "Take a look around. We won't bite."
So I did.
What I found reminded me of so much of what I love about education: the sense of possibility, the opportunities presented by movable desks and chairs, the raw materials of creativity and discovery stored in cabinets along the walls. I thought of how hard each student who sits in those chairs worked to get there--and how hard they must work to maintain the right to stay there now.
I also admittedly thought of short people like me whose frames will never find a truly comfortable way to perch in chairs that height. Our legs don't fold into the desired angles in the right places.
I took these photos thinking about how often advice from writers like Anne Lamott and Stephen King starts off with the admonition to "sit your butt in the chair and write," and how I have never given the humble chair its due. Chairs are where we learn and work, yes. They are also where we sit at tables with each other and talk and argue and fuss over and love one another. Chairs hold us when we hear bad news; they cradle us while we snuggle and coo over new babies. They can be cozy and inviting or hard and unyielding, and you can't always tell which will be which until you sit down. We can squeeze into them with someone we don't mind being up in each other's business with, or we can sprawl across them in a way that discourages others from getting too close.
These chairs from that classroom--and indeed any empty chairs--seem like nothing so much as invitations. They are invitations to stop and stay with something or someone. They are invitations to shift some responsibilities around so that you can focus your attention and rest. They are invitations to open yourself to learning, to trying, to adding your energy to the momentum that carries us all forward.
Where is there an empty chair waiting for you? What kind of possibilities might it hold?
Mother, photographer, writer. Expert in making things up as she goes and figuring things out along the way.