Saturday, May 15, 2010

Message in a bottle

The Moving Finger writes,
and, having writ, moves on:
nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back
to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears
wash out a Word of it.
-- Omar Khayyam

How much do we actually connect with other human beings using these bizarre, ephemeral tools developed in the last decade? Via email, blogs, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, the mighty Iphone? And now, the horrifying and fascinating Chatroulette?

I woke up this morning thinking about how with these things we are never alone. Or rather, we have the illusion that we are not alone. The status update we send in the wee hours or the text message we receive during the workday keep us "connected", providing our intravenous drip of the milk of human comfort.

Since we are constantly looking for this feedback from outside ourselves, we are actually, I suspect, eroding our ability to authentically connect with others. (Not to mention our attention spans. Have you read a book lately?) We’re in the land of smoke and mirrors with all these toys. Like a veiled woman, we peek, then hide.

Perhaps these tools are perfectly suited to this age, when we are over-stimulated in so many ways. We prefer the drip of human comfort to the overflowing cup that might overwhelm us. Our most sensitive antennae have retracted, we are fearful of being smashed like bugs on a windshield of the information highway.

Now even in Big Sur the "Digital Divide" is shrinking. Thanks to strategically deployed satellites, T1 lines and so on, we are no longer handicapped by lack of access to the web. This helps our functioning in the business and social realms enjoyed by our more sophisticated neighbors.

I once asked my elderly neighbor Bob what people did in Big Sur before all this technology was available to us. No HBO, no Internet, no cell phones, just National Public Radio. He replied laconically, "There was always ice-cream."

Our “old man on the mountain” was really a faux-hermit. Bob would practically break out in hives when his phone line went out, needing his constant stream of callers and visitors to keep him in touch with the world.

A friend of mine says we are like any primates foraging for grubs: when we achieve success in our hunt for contact, our dopamine receptors sit up and say, "Thanks! More please." Now we can hunt down our prey day or night, anywhere in the world. We can shop, chat, have fake sex, or put a new piece of data in the quiver of our brain, basically non-stop if we choose.

The art of sitting still is leaving us. Like rats in mazes we’ll keep using our cell-phones (which may be killing us) texting while driving, and twittering our way into eternity. No doubt we are evolving, but into what?

The fundamental truth, expressed by Khayyam so many centuries ago, persists: Nothing we do can alter the passing of each moment. The moving finger writes our destinies, moving across keypads instead of stone tablets. Replacing fine feather quills on parchment, our grubby digits now tap out our fates. In the unique journeys of our lives, we are still at the mercy of Time.

So I send out my message in a bottle with this blog. I too, want validation, comfort and love from the world. Sitting on top of a mountain is wonderful: I can do yoga, eat ice cream and watch the condors fly past, but I am a modern social animal, too. Shhhhhh, here's the Secret: if we're properly grateful, we may just be able to have it all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What scared me this morning

Ah, country living. Waking up in the morning, stepping outside to a spring breeze swirling around my ankles, walking on wet grass, smelling a flower.

Watching the moon sink faintly into the fog bank on the horizon. Throwing the ball for the dog. Taking deep breaths.

Back inside to make coffee. Chatting with my guest, cleaning up the mess from last night. Reaching for the bag of beans on top of the microwave, and then, Crack! Morning tranquility shattered by my primal girly-girl scream. And what do you think I saw?

Eek-a-MOUSE! Collapsed picturesquely beside the sugar jar. The yellow Victory logo on the mousetrap all too ironic. Admiring the still life quality of the scene, my impulse is to capture the beastie's demise. My guest joins in the photojournalistic venture, documenting me documenting the drama in my kitchen.

After one more gratifying horror movie queen scream (emitted after picking up the totally disgusting package) I show the not-so-tiny carcass to my recently adopted girl cat Petunia, to see if she will keep the ancestral cat's bargain from Just So Stories. Startled by the rodent hanging off the trap, she quickly runs away. Oh well. Off to the compost heap for a quick burial.

So, do we contemplate the memento mori aspects of this event? I'm afraid not. As my wise guest comments, "Not every invitation to meditate on mortality needs to be accepted." Instead, we sit on the blue Adirondack chairs outside, savoring our hard-earned cups of coffee, and plan a beautiful May Day of gardening projects.

And now, for the very brave, a view of what gave me an adrenalin surge this morning. Viewer discretion advised.
Photos by Linda Rosewood and Linda Sonrisa