Have You Ever Seen a Table Made for One?
In my last post I was explaining the Kepi effect. This blog came on the heels of a joyful weekend spent in Spokane, Washington. There the Dooris family threw one heckuva Kepi to send their son off to Guatemala for the next 20+ months.
...And now, how to define this thing called the Kepi Effect?
Have you ever seen a table made for one? Seriously, have you ever seen a table fashioned to seat one person at a time? I have, it’s called a desk. It’s a place where people sit down to do work. It’s often associated with laborious stuff, and things that give people angina. Like spread sheets. And books, read alone, in silence, by oneself. And a computer screen. See, a table made for one is made for work. And that can be a very good thing, work.
But have you noticed how many people eat at their desks?
How many people make their desk into a dining table? A dining table for one? Let’s be honest, eating at your desk, alone, seems similar to drinking all alone, on your couch, in the dark. There is something not quite right in it. It is unhealthy. And science backs me up on this. But why is it unhealthy? The studies show that it is what we eat at our desks that make us unhealthy. But I don’t think that’s the big problem. It’s the alone part that is the problem. Being alone with your food and with your work is the virus that makes us ill. Eating is meant for a different kind of table, the kind that isn’t a desk, the kind that includes other seats and plates and people. You see, a table, by definition, demands the presence of others. A desk does not. A desk is about me, a table is about us.
And now we’ve stumbled upon the Kepi Effect. When you set a table, preferably with some wine, and some tasty food, and then some people intent on toasting one another, and then throw in a Tamada (toastmaster) who poetically (or so we hope) introduces 16 traditional toasts like love and marriage and war and hope and the dead and sex, and then throw in some music, and add a philosophical debate or two, and then add in some dancing, and then some more toasting and then a rams horn with vodka, and then some more toasting… well, you’ve begun to crack the door open for that wonderful guest called relationship. When you create the table this way you are creating your very own cosmos. I’d go so far as to say you are creating a lifestyle, organizing a religion with each fork and napkin and plate. The table is the icon of relationship, and relationship is the grist for love. The table invites love, the desk invites work. I think this is one reason Americans always say “make sure you love your work.” In some ways we are compensating for our loneliness by hoping to have a love affair with our desk and our job. The table, the kepi, asks us to love other people. The kepi demands that we listen to others, and not only ourselves. The kepi is where we find life. It is where we find the other, even if they are often annoying and sometimes in our way- just like that pimple on our buttocks, the one we can't see without a mirror. Georgians say that it is at the Kepi that our enemies become our friends, where our friends become our brothers. And that, in anything but a nutshell, is the Kepi Effect. The table births brothers and sisters and in the end, creates life.
If I had to say it all in just one sentence I’d say this: The Kepi Effect is the momentary embrace of humility. It is when others seem more important than yourself. It is when we westerners push our desks together if only for one night. At First Things Foundation this is what we aim to do: Leave our desks for the simple life, assist those who suffer the poverty of that life, and then return heavy laden with the rich wealth of the Kepi Effect. Please join us in both giving to the old world and receiving the bounty of that world in the form of love.