Learn to slow down and iron napkins again

Published 11:00 am Friday, May 3, 2013

Years ago I wrote a column about napkins.

It is one column many of you commented on, probably because most of us “older folk” have ironed napkins, and the act of ironing napkins leads our minds into all different subjects of thought. Ironing napkins takes very little concentration, allowing us to daydream, and ponder.

Today I was ironing those napkins of Allen’s great grandmother, Lucy Briscoe, which are still serving us well with only a few little holes to bespeak their age. Lucy died in 1943 at the age of 82, leading me to think that these napkins are probably close to 90 years old, assuming that she did not buy monogrammed napkins after she was 65 years old.

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What I was pondering while ironing was: “How many things have we thrown away, useful things, in those 90 years? How much knowledge has been lost? In an age when we seem to worship youth and all things new, how many of those “new and better” things are actually better, and how many are not? Most importantly, are we happier?

Allen and I watched a documentary last night called “Happy.” I recommend it highly. After a person’s basic needs are met, accumulation of material wealth does not make bring happiness.

The three big things that make us happy are all intrinsic values: a feeling that there is a higher power and a grand universe out there that we cannot yet see, compassion for others, and having a support group of family and friends.

Amazingly, many of the people interviewed said the world of nature is proof to them that there is a higher power, that we are part of a much bigger, grander picture. How many of us learned about beauty, and harmony, and truth by being outside, in nature, watching the trees, the creeks, the worms and ants, and being still? Being still is what gives us time and permission to ponder, and to wonder.