Lao Tzu

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

Friday, March 4, 2011

We Have to Stop Meeting Like This...

This blogging thing is taking up too much of my time, my life.  The question has become not so much to be or not to be, as, is this or is this not being, living?  I ask this, while being entirely aware of the irony of the question, posed as I am, sitting here in front of my monitor, the window onto the life of my imagination, a life built from electronic bits I know pretty much nothing about, aside from 0101010101...all the while the buzz of a landscaper’s trimmer breaks the barrier from outside in the real world to inside my skull, annoyingly, interfering with my concentration.

This morning, rather than going directly,
dressed in my bathrobe, to the computer to write my next comment to one or another blog post at Thom, I said, No, that can wait. I got dressed, instead, had breakfast, then got in my car —which now runs quietly, thank you very much— to go do a few errands and be in the world.  The last stop on my list was the local torterillia, where they have extra-large-sized corn tortillas, and teeny-tiny ones, and where I speak Spanglish with the workers. (I have never seen another anglo in this business.) At the checkout, I made little jokes here and there, and the clerk played along, smiling, mirroring my mood. When I said, “Bromeando...I’m only kidding,” with a chuckle and a smile, she nodded and smiled back.  This was important, as miniscule a moment of human interaction as it was, because it reminds me of what is so lacking in online relationships—air, human bodies in space and time, where real smiles, eyes, eyebrows, and gestures give communication a reality one can count on. No amount of text or emoticons will ever take the place of the real thing; no matter how hard you try not to misinterpret an online conversation, it is bound to happen. Not that we don’t “misunderestimate” (a word coined by my favorite comedian, Dubya) people in person, for heaven’s sake. It happens all the time. However, at least there you have a chance. Online? Not so good.

So many of us find ourselves relating in this way, sitting alone in our offices, or cars, kitchens, at school, or wherever, “talking” to “friends” at Facebook, or Tweeting, or texting, where everything and anything can be said, or discussed. We need it, don’t we, because where can you go in your neighborhood to discuss politics, to play, where you don’t have to buy a drink? Does anybody talk politics at home anymore? It’s a puzzlement.  But I’m not sure we have the best answer.  I, for one, find myself pulling away from the digital life, thinking I just might be happier shutting it all down and going outside to tidy up my front yard. At least there, I might meet a real person, a neighbor, and have a real conversation....  um...  but where we will have to avoid the subject of politics, or religion, or culture....oh hell, it’s an impossible choice, and so here I am again.



Looking out from our beach bench,

at grays, mauves and umbered swaths,

this sky pressing down on the smothered sun,

the surf crawling forward like a frothy

army of crabs, only to scoot a reminder

of the Now ‘round bathers’ ankles, as if

Monday were not looming—

we ignore each other, you on your laptop,

I with the passers-by on the sidewalk,

dogs on taut leashes, spotted mutts,

sleek pointers, the muscular pug with her

complement, the master in black spandex

and loose-jointed amble leading with

the hips, cutting a profile on the landscape

worthy of the Hockney eye; but you

offer another view, a digitally pieced

psychedelic composition I’ve seen

more times than I care to remember;

and the music works it out, makes it,

takes it to where no salty breeze

interferes, from here to where

we are again, like indoor cats

at the window of our lives.


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