Monday, June 25, 2012

My Desk

I sit at a desk that used to be a study carrel at Harvard University. My grandfather was head of the university's printing facility back in the 40s and 50s, so somehow we managed to snare a few nice items.  There are stains and gouges on the desk top, as well as the imprint of a pair of small scissors.

My imagination runs wild when considering this small desktop filled with piles of books, with just a little room left for a stack of paper and a pen.  Over and over that image repeats as young people studied and wrote paper, answered questions, or researched topics. Sometimes the books were so boring heads would nod until eyes closed and sleep would come.  Other times, great ideas were born. Maybe a single moment of clarity would open an entirely new world for a young mind.  Who knows, maybe a young man wrote an awkward piece of prose to express his love.

This desk holds a couple of computer monitors (the piles of books lift them to eye level), speakers and a keyboard now.  I have been known to fall asleep leaning back in Dad's chair when the books get exceptionally boring.

The number of books that I have available to me through electronic means would startle those young students.  I often feel like a lazy slug when I click open a few windows and have reams of information available to me without the need for a librarian.

I get a little intimidated if I think too deeply about the users of the desk fifty or sixty years ago.  There was so much potential and they were about to enter the world at an amazing point in our recent history. So much was happening in the world around them.  All they had to do was reach out and grab their future.

We're in the middle of our own future right now.  In the last 50 years, some amazing things have occurred.  I experienced the beginning of the internet and free flowing information. Technology seems to have no end. I saw men land on the moon and build a space station. Communication is cheaper and faster than ever before.

I look at this little desk and think of the people who have sat in front of it as they learned.  It no longer resides in one of the oldest and most respected universities in the US, but through the wonders that have come alive in its future, it holds the tools for learning on its table top.

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