Monday, April 27, 2009

The Evader


Since we stayed in a hotel last week, there was a lot of excitement and consternation over the elevator. Elevators are always exciting anyway. We don't encounter elevators on a daily basis and here we found ourselves inside a moving, steely box multiple times daily.

There was the rush out of the hotel room and the race to be the first to push the button. Then there was the attempt to guess which set of doors would open. There was the rush to determine which floor number to push and be the first to depress that number. There was also the coup de grace of being rewarded with a backlit glow acknowledging the floor selection.

Hannah adored the elevator on a whole number of levels. For one thing she is obsessed with letters and she recognized several letters on the control panel. She loved the power of choosing and engaging our path to the destination. She looked at the shiny ceiling and identified each passenger by his reflection. She also loved trying to peer down in the crack between the floor and the elevator itself each time the doors opened.

So with all that elevator chafuer service, I had time to think. (Yeah, right) Why did they love so much this device that Hannah called the "evader"? And why was I so fascinated with her name for it? I thought about how an elevator could be like an evader. I think it is a diversion. It is an escape from the mundane. It's a little space-aged-feeling departure from what is normal.

The doors close, shutting us off from the place we've just been. Once those doors are closed and we begin to move, we can't go back without first going somewhere else. When the doors open, we are in a new place. It make look similar to the floor we just left, but we all know something has definitely changed and it's not just the elevation.

There is music in the elevator which doesn't match the music in our ipods or the hallway. Cellphone service usually ends in the elevator making it one of the last few places to evade this technology and continuous contact with society at large. I think somehow an elevator seems like we're cheating. We're being transported with almost no effort on our part.

When we climb up or down stairs we are aware of the work of moving from one place to another. We see and feel that progress in our straining muscles, lightly sweating bodies, and the glide of the handrail underneath our palms. We count stairs and flights of stairs.

The elevator is not like life. We do not leave our current spiritual or emotional circumstance only to be moved anesthesia-like to the next level. When we sleep through these transitions in real life, there are consequences. If we want to move a level, real life involves stairs: cold, hard, cinder-blocked, echoey, musty stairs. An elevator is a great, fascinating mirror-topped, soothing-musacked departure from reality. This time, can I be the one to push the button on the evader and feel that ticklish dip in my belly as gravity tries to remind me that I won't always be so lucky or so evasive?

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