I was 18 or so, and a friend and I took a little trip out to Kakabeka Falls (near Thunder Bay). We had no agenda, in that carefree way of teenagers – we just wanted to see the falls. You can get really close to the falls, it’s quite accessible, with fences and sidewalks and lookouts. It’s a lovely spot. There are benches here and there, and we wanted to sit but they were all taken. So, we sat on the sidewalk, our backs to the fence and falls, and chatted. There’s a picture somewhere of us. Someday I’ll dig it up, it was a great day.
At some point, our conversation drifted to our choice to sit on the ground, and how no one seemed to be bothered by it.
We weren’t getting the sideways glances we expected even though we were occupying sidewalk space and others had to be mindful to walk around us. We were living in a grey area, still acting like kids, but old enough to feel like what we were doing might stand out. “How much longer do you think we’ll be able to sit on the ground before it becomes socially unacceptable?” I’m not sure which of us spoke this out loud, but whenever I think of that day, the question was a part of it.
Where’s the line, really? At what age, in our North American culture, does it become socially unacceptable to sit on the ground? (To see what the rest of the world is doing, I highly recommend you check out Gordon Hewes’ wrote a paper entitled “World Postural Habits”. Check it out here–it’s fascinating.) I’ve spent time over the years thinking about this, particularly in the last few years. For one, I’ve immersed myself in this movement world which has really opened my eyes to the omnipresence of chairs in our society (and the amount of time we spend being shaped by them), but the biggest change has been having children. It has become socially acceptable to sit on the ground again, as long as I’m with my girls.
I’m typing this at the local library, escaping from my home and all its chores, with the girls at school and daycare.
I’m sitting on the floor, on the step, and standing at the shelves. I’m not
sitting on the chairs at the sturdy tables, and that’s alternative. There’s a children’s area upstairs, that I’m quite familiar with. All the adults up there sit on the floor or, (more likely, if I’m being honest) on the step or the couch. They all have children with them. An adult in the children’s section without a child? Hmm. That might draw stares for a different reason. Not to mention I’m on a computer and I know what happens to computers around toddlers! So, it’s not an option.
There’s an area for teens in another corner and it’s lovely. Low tables, a variety of chair options, pillows to sit on. “No adults, please” – such a polite sign and I do understand the intention. I wonder though… what about the adults who are drawn to this space for the flexible seating?
There is no space here for me, a floor-sitting adult, so I’ve carved out my own.
You know what, though? My hips feel great. Please, come join me on the floor. Become a part of the movement.