When I was in high school, I took a keyboarding class. I sort of wish now that it had been a music class that equipped me with the mad skillz to tickle the fake, plastic ivories of a Casio - or better yet a key-tar! - but alas, it was a typing class. We used what were probably at the time (that time being the early 90s) already slightly outdated electric typewriters. And I'm going to go ahead and let my geek flag fly and tell you that I kind of liked it. At home, we had a manual typewriter that I used on occasion and for which I held a certain amount of affection, but those of you who remember these fine, vintage pieces will recall that if you made a mistake, you had to Liquid Paper that sonuvabeech outta there. Which was a pretty enormous pain in the ass. Well, I was happy to discover that the fancy schmancy school typewriters had a correction tape in them that would, at the touch of a button, back track and make all your errors disappear in a flash. To a bookish Northern-Reflections-loon-sweatshirt-wearing half-pint, this was nothing short of awesome.
What I loved most about keyboarding class, though, was learning some of the style rules for correct typing (see above re. being a geek). The big one was: the post-period double space. The rule was that, at the end of a sentence, following a period, you were to type TWO spaces before beginning your next sentence. And I remain, to this day, a hard-and-fast loyal champion of the post-period double space. TWO SPACES UNTIL I DIE!
You see, somewhere along the way between the early 90s and now, someone somewhere decided that we should get rid of one of those spaces and just get on with things. As far as I can tell, this has become the new standard, but two spaces vs. one space remains a hotly debated topic in the writing and publishing world (none of us get out much). I've noticed that Squarespace, the otherwise wonderful system that serves as the design and content management back-end for this site, has jumped on the one-space bandwagon and as a result, sometimes my two-spaced entries include unintended indents, like the one you see in the paragraph above before "And I remain..." (note to self: The UnIntended Indents...possible key-tar band name?). I'll admit that it's mildly annoying, but not annoying enough for me to change my ways.
You see, I think the extra space is important. Having two spaces allows a little more time to pause and consider the words you've just read, a little more white space to separate one sentence from the next, one thought from another. It allows time to think and breathe. And if you'll allow me to extrapolate wildly on this for social commentary, I think the death of the second space (or was it the first space?) is reflective of our society's increasing rush to get to the next thing. We are constantly on the go, multi-tasking and Getting Things Done and pushing for increased productivity and efficiency. And apparently we JUST CAN'T WAIT that one extra space to get to the next sentence, that five extra minutes to relax with a cup of tea before getting on with our day, that one extra board game with our kids before tackling the never-ending chores.
I know I for one could use some more space to breathe and some more time to think, and I'm trying to find that space and make that time in all aspects of my life, to varying degrees of success. Sometimes it's getting up a little earlier so I can have a leisurely breakfast with my girls before getting ready for work. Sometimes it's letting the dishes wait (they're not going anywhere, sadly) so I can sit with my book for a few minutes. Sometimes it's stepping away for a second to breathe so that angry, yelling Mommy doesn't make an appearance. And sometimes it's taking an extra moment to listen, really listen, to what my four-year-old is whining about, because sometimes under the irritating wrapping is a genuine concern she needs me to hear.
Time is precious and none of us have enough of it, but there are small amounts to be found and collected and turned into moments of peace and joy, if you make a conscious effort to look for them. You can choose to take that extra time, and let the mad-dash rush-about crowd go on ahead. Stay behind a moment. It's peaceful here. You can choose to savour the space and breathe. And sometimes, you can even choose to make a full stop.