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Building Familiarity

Everything that was broken has
forgotten its brokenness. I live
now in a sky-house, through every
window the sun. Also your presence.
Our touching, our stories. Earthy
and holy both. How can this be, but
it is. Every day has something in
it whose name is Forever.
— Mary Oliver, Felicity

Recently I received a new laptop computer from the company I work with to replace a Surface Pro that was beginning to show signs of duress (blue screens and such). The nice thing about technology is it’s easily transferrable from device-to-device. Apple seems to have mastered this with iPhone and Mac. The PC world isn’t quite as elegant but the process of transferring your life from one device to another is largely seamless… and yet disruptive at the same time. Fingers tap at places once familiar and now foreign. Something as simple as the angle of your wrists makes all the difference in the world. And don’t get me started on screen sizes.

We build familiarity in our lives through the action in our days. The chairs we default to when we sit for dinner, where we store the plates or the raucous collection of Tupperware. Which side of the refrigerator holds the ketchup. And of course, how we coexist with life partners, children and pets in this space are what make it a home. When things change, we feel it viscerally. Something is amiss.

If we’re blessed with a good foundation and sound choices, we might build something that lasts for a very long time. But everything changes when you sprinkle enough days together. Most notably, we change. Our preferences and appetite, our bodies, and those of the characters around us too. We are at once shaped by our environment even as we shape it. Every day has something in it whose name is Forever.

Every interaction with the world is an opportunity to linger, if only for a little while. Or maybe a lifetime. We have a say in what becomes essential to us. We can’t always control its durability. Familiarity is another form of seeing things through to its natural end. Or maybe ours. This, of course, is our forever.

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