When the new Tribal Sugar headquarters opens its doors in a week or so, if you stop by for a visit, you will find us sitting at my kitchen table. Not IN my kitchen of course, but my kitchen table non the less. That is because this table has become a symbol of gathering to me, and I hope that you will come and sit there with me. We hope to host many small gatherings where people can come together to meet new friends, learn, create, and share connections that we have all been missing in our lives recently. So it seemed only fitting that I bring my table along, even though some may think she is a little too big and a little too plain and maybe even a little too outdated to put in a brand new space. She is symbol of connection and intention, and that is what I ultimately hope Tribal Sugar can be for me, and for you.
This is the story of how this table came to be the mascot of Tribal Sugar, and why I asked my husband (and a few other kind men) to figure out a way to get her through the door of our new building... and place her smack dab in the middle of everything...
The nucleus. The heartbeat. The center. The brain. These are all phrases I would use to describe the table that sat in the kitchen of my home for 15 years. It was built by a young up and coming craftsman in 2005, and served as a gathering place every day it was in our home, but never did it feel more vital to my existence than it did in 2020.
Life (and love) in the time of Covid. Mine was chaotic. It was a collection of opposing emotions, and a ride of uncertainty that left me as windswept, and as exhilarated as any roller coaster could... and just as nauseous. When I look back on the events of 2020 I will forever be filled with gratitude for the lessons I learned, and the clarity I obtained. I believe that 2020 gave me 2020 vision, at least for a time, and that clarity of vision came from slowing down, from listening, and from opening my mind and soul to the kind of introspection that rocks you to your core, shakes all of your beliefs, traditions and direction so violently, that you have no choice but to redirect and try life in a new way. The new direction that I found came largely form the things that I gathered at this table every morning, every afternoon, and every evening. This tree, gathered from a forest somewhere, and fashioned into a table, became a part of me, and I a part of her. Together, we gathered the pieces of life that make it worth living.
Each morning of 2020 I rose to watch the sunrise. It peaked through the glass in my kitchen, filling the room with light. Some days it was radiant and cheerful, some days it was dull and somber. But that sun came up every morning, no matter what, and I was there to greet it every day. No matter what.
I learned to be my children's teacher again at this table. I slowed, sat in the straight-backed chairs, and listened to their needs, their struggles, their desires. When I sent my youngest boys back to "school" in the fall, they sat at computer screens in different rooms in the house, and I sat at this table. We all felt weirdly disconnected. I heard her whisper to me that those boys belonged to me, and that i should gather them back to this table and teach them myself. I listened. The joy quickly returned to my life. I learned right along with them. We painted, we wrote stories, we struggled through math, and we laughed. Oh, how we laughed. We laughed more that year sitting at this table that we ever have before. We laughed, and it healed us all.
I learned how to talk with God at this table. Each morning, as I sat here studying, meditating, planing and daydreaming. I found I could hear God if I spoke to him in more honest way. Some days I actually spoke out loud. Asking Him, lecturing Him, thanking Him. Each day was different, but the table was the same.
I learned how to run a business at this table. I also learned that running a business was not about money for me, it was about creating, and reaching and learning to be honest with myself. I formulated ideas, made lists, learned to pay attention to detail, and take risks at this table. I finally realized what it means to believe in yourself, and why that is so important. I also leaned that failure is not always the worst thing; that friendship is more important than success; and that I am not always the friend I should be. That was hard for me to see, but I am glad I did, because that allowed me to evaluate where I could make improvements, and identify what I really wanted to change, and why. Failure became growth, and guilt became simple motivation to be better.
For the first time in my family's life, we at most of our meals at this table. We gathered in different groups and times for breakfast and lunch, but we always ate all together for dinner. All 7 of us. I studied cookbooks at the table during the day, trying to figure out ways to bring happiness to the 6 faces looking back at me at the table every night. 6 faces who had been robbed of experiences, friendships, adventures, and independence, but 6 faces who filled those empty spaces up with love for each other and connection through card games, fishing reports, political debates, and religious discussions. We all felt the shift. It all came because we had time to gather at this table. Time to sit, time to stay, and time to really be together.
I will always be grateful for this beautiful table. She does not have the most beautiful chairs in the house, or even the most comfortable. She is simple, sturdy, and no nonsense. She is not fancy and she is rarely clean. She is a place of gathering however, and her strong legs and wide expanse make her the perfect place to hold everything we needed to stay together as a family that year. She has just enough space for each of us, and even a little extra for anyone who might be passing through. She is quiet, but if she could speak, she would tell you that life is short, and should be enjoyed, not just endured.
She might also tell you that chaos is the melody to life, and when you learn to sing along, the harmony will heal you.
So I hope that you will stop by, and sit at my table. You are always welcome. We can learn, create, and share together. We can sort through the chaos, and help each other love just a little bit better.
I will tell you one last secret about my table... she also makes one hell of a good hiding spot in an earthquake.