I’ve often wanted to live in a simpler time with less stuff, less pressure and less noise, cooking slow food by firelight, living in a cave with everyone I know eating together and sleeping together. Just kidding. If I was going to travel back in time, I wouldn’t go back before the time of chairs. I really like chairs. And I’m not so sure about everyone sleeping in one room. The snores must have been deafening. I come from a family of snorers. In a cave, the echo of my mother’s snore could have started a rock slide.
Of course, if I lived in cave times, I would be the oldest woman alive. Back then women became grandmothers in their 30s and almost no one lived past 40. Grandmothers helped their adult daughters who were pregnant, rocking a new baby and breastfeeding a toddler, all at the same time. There was no planned parenthood. So grandmothers had an important role to play in managing the children and teaching them how to find food.
A grandmother took the kids and walked to the nearest watering hole, got down on her hands and knees, and drank. Maybe she filled an animal bladder with water to carry back to the cave. Then she taught the kids to identify edible plants and dig for tubers, those nutritious roots that enabled cave people to carbo-load. On her hands and knees in the dirt, she foraged with a stick and took the tubers back home where she collected wood to build a fire and roast them in the hot coals. Then, still on her hands and knees, she fed her family. Imagine grocery shopping on your hands and knees, walking home, and making dinner on your kitchen floor. My knees hurt just thinking about it.
Back then a grandmother’s role was to share her wisdom to ensure the survival of her family. Daily life was an extreme sport and her age was a testament to her skills. She was valued for her knowledge, but her rugged existence abbreviated her lifespan. I’m so glad I don’t have to crawl around on my hands and knees, and eat weeds to prove I’m worthy. A chair may seem to be the simplest of objects, but chairs got us up off the floor so we could live long enough to have joint replacement surgery. They elevated Cleopatra to sit on her throne and rule Egypt, Mary Shelley to sit at her desk and write Frankenstein, Aretha Franklin to sit at her piano and sing, and me — I’m just thankful I don’t to have carve my blog posts on stone tablets.
So next time you have a seat, lean back and put your elbows on the armrests, feel your good fortune and have a moment of gratitude for the ten-thousand-thousand grandmothers who worked a lifetime on their hands and knees so we could take it easy living in the time of chairs.