Writing Out

The last few days I’d been struggling with some rare, but noticeable, issues with my iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Cover. Occasionally, several keys would simply stop working. It felt like a software glitch but, as some friends pointed out, why take it risk it might be something more? I brought it back to the Apple Store on Friday Morning and they exchanged it, no questions asked.

I was on a bit of a time crunch, so I didn’t want to drive all the way back home to begin writing my sermon 1. So I instead found a “charging table” in in the mall and sat down to write. What a fascinating experience!

It took a bit of searching to find the table at which I ended up. There were some stools and a narrow counter at which to sit in corridor outside the Apple Store, but I thought the setup might be a bit uncomfortable for typing. I remembered seeing the aforementioned charging table on my way in, but passed it as I worked my way back out of the mall 2. I found it on my second pass and pulled out my iPad Pro to continue my writing process.

While the bench was not really designed for long-term work 3, I didn’t find typing at it inordinately difficult. I split my iPad’s screen and opened my current translation and reflections in notes, then began typing away in Scrivener. From time to time I’d notice the late morning denizens making their way through the complex.

The last vestiges of the mall walkers were finishing up their morning exercise. They moved in groups of two and three, and we’re almost always dressed for a workout.

A African-American gentleman sitting across from me was there with his father, who was walking the halls while they waited for a restaurant to open for lunch. As the dad wandered through the mall a UPS delivery man came and sat down next to the son and they two embraced — they were apparently old friends and were totally surprised to see each other. They then had a long conversation about dog-breeding and training and treating animals with compassion before the UPS worker had to move off to finish his rounds. It was such a wonderfully normal conversation to witness 4.

I also saw numerous doting grandparents with their grandchildren, a mom who was walking her barefoot child through the mall for some reason, and many people who looked like they were cutting sophomore English to do some shopping 5.

What struck me most, however, was how quiet it was. Sometimes, when I’m writing alone in my home, the confines of my house almost give the silence texture. It fills the house until the absence of sound becomes mentally noisy. In the more open spaces of the Mall’s corridor, however, the background noise felt as though it was being absorbed by a powerful silence. The mall was undoubtedly louder than my home, but ended up not being as noisy. It was a rather remarkable experience, especially as my normal experience at a mall is to be stressed out by the mentally crushing presence of people who are all either unhappy or in a hurry.

Best of all, however, was a complete lack of wifi. Now, had I wanted to, I could have set up outside the Apple Store and used their free wifi 6. The lack of wifi for my iPad Pro, however, meant I had no notifications buzzing on my screen. I never saw a comment to which I felt I needed to respond. I didn’t finish a few paragraphs and instinctively check my email. I did have my phone in my pocket, but having it hidden away kept my interactions with it to a minimum 7.

When the weather turns colder I may have to explore writing in the mall more often. I could head over early and walk a few laps through the concourse 8, pick up a cup of coffee, and find a place to sit and write. With so many different spaces set up around the structure, it could be a dramatically different experience every time.

  1. In fact, I was typing it using the on-screen keyboard while various genius-type-people were running around getting my issue resolved. 
  2. I was attempting to dodge one of the aggressive “just let me give you a sample” people. They are the real-life nightmares for introverts everywhere. 
  3. For one thing, the bench was too low for the desk. 
  4. No, I wasn’t paying attention the entire time. I was interested in the chance encounter, though, and I adore dogs so my ADD brain fixed in on that bit as soon as it kicked my focus in the shins. 
  5. In reality, these were probably twenty somethings on a break. At 43 anyone under 25 looks like a child to me any more. 
  6. Though Apple blocks my VPN so it’s not something I’m inclined to do. 
  7. And my watch was in “Do Not Disturb” mode. 
  8. I must close my circles!