The Tyranny of Chairs

The chair has a long, rich history. An unassuming piece of furniture, it appeared in the ancient world first as a throne. Upon it, pharaohs and tyrants sat elevated above the throng who sat on the egalitarian ground. The only ruler who sat without a chair or platform of any kind was Genghis Khan. Otherwise, generally speaking, the rulers and privileged gladly took the royal seat.

But what really is the royal seat? Today, chairs can be said to contribute to lower back pain, neck pain, poor circulation, hemorrhoids, stress and strain. It is not comfortable to sit in chairs.  Have you noticed?

The horizontologist shuns chairs in favor of any flat place, tatami or rug or zabuton on which to sit. The two ways to sit on the floor are seiza and aguira. Seiza style is to kneel, then sit back on your heals. Aguira style is sitting cross-legged. You can sit in these two positions without negative stress. Chairs cannot compete with the logic of our bodies.

Also, it can be said that chairs add to our avarice and our confusion. How? Well, think of it. If you have a chair, soon you will need a table on which to put things — the things you once laid out on the ground where you used to sit. Now, you can put the glass on the table — but wait! Please use a coaster to protect the fine wood! Remove the chair and you remove the need for the coaster.

As soon as you can sit up, you’re propped up in a high chair or a stroller with a straight back. Then, you’re forced to go to school for hours of sitting. You sit in the cafeteria to eat. There’s a stool with your name on it in the coffee shop. You sit in the barber’s chair, the witness stand, the gas chamber, the rocket, the lunar module, the waiting room to see the doctor who tells you, after hours of sitting, to have a seat.  There’s the dentist’s chair, the massage chair. There are even chairpersons. We sit in chairs that are attached to cars, trains, planes, boats. Even when we go camping, we bring fold-out chairs. Can’t walk anymore? Have a seat in your brand new wheelchair. The porch swing is nothing but a chair in disguise. Everybody in the war room sits in chairs. We sit on toilets and we sit on hard wooden pews praying to a god sitting in a chair. His Son sits on the chair to his right and if you’re lucky enough to get to Heaven, you get to sit on the chair to his left. Forever.

Time to release ourselves from the tyranny of chairs. Allow the hip bones and the knee bones to remember how to sit properly.

4600 BC Egyptian figure and chair clay model -- is it Gumby?

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