Saturday, April 6, 2013

life without my binky

Two days ago, on Thursday, the Internet and the land line telephone stopped operating. Strangely, the television, which is likewise subservient to the provider of communication services (Comcast), worked. After a couple of gnashing phone calls to impeccably polite but not terribly bright young phone clerks, I was stuck with the farm after being told that the earliest possible service-technician appointment would be on Saturday ... 2.5-3 days hence. How this computed as acceptable service eluded me, but there was no getting around it. I could be as pissed as I wanted ... and still the earliest repair was what seemed to be miles in the future.

How kool it is to pretend to be kool. Kool people analyze and dissect and because they can analyze and dissect, you might think that they actually were kool about whatever they are analyzing and dissecting. This is utter hogwash.

Losing the Internet entered my existence like some very-well-sharpened scalpel -- smooth, without effort and slicing me open at a visceral level. It was threatening in an insistent and yet amorphous way. I felt the kind of pangs that drug addicts feel during withdrawal ... lost and without hand-holds within. A part of me was screaming silently like a drug addict ... screaming and yet no one could hear or cared. It was as real as it was irrational.

Read a book, do some zazen, go take some pictures ... I ran the kool nostrums on my floundering addict. Each had its moments of effectiveness and yet the interior edginess was never quite stilled.!!!! Just a dime bag ... please!!!

I do feel fortunate to have run into an approach to habits in my life. Zen Buddhism doesn't cure a fucking thing -- it's not some new and improved heroin no matter how many people may use it that way. But it does offer in practice a way to see what things might be like without the habits ... habits of the Internet, habits of depression, marital or employment habits, the habit of a reliable pair of shoes.

Finding some approach, Zen Buddhist or otherwise, is not like author Ernest Hemingway's constant seeking out of death-dealing situations as a means of knowing he was alive. It's not like Christianity's sometimes heavy-handed depictions of hell as a means of elevating heaven. Rather, it is a way of knowing -- as I think everyone does -- that at some point the nearest and dearest and most closely-held habits will lose their force and meaning ... and who would I be then? The initial answer is eeeeeek! But eeeeek doesn't change the facts ... so, how about the place without handholds? Isn't there some sense to facing the facts? Not as a means of disdaining or eradicating old habits, but just as a means of seeing them for what they are?

I feel lucky to have run into an approach. Never mind finding relief ... just an approach that is a little less convinced or converted. Life without a binky may be pretty scary (why else all the floundering and analyzing and dissecting?), but it's a lot easier than finding yourself in the 12-foot end of the pool before you have learned to swim.

For all that, I will be happy when then Internet guy comes and restores service. With a vein full of heroin, life without heroin doesn't look so bad, right?

PS. The guy came (obviously) and the fix was so utterly simple that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. No animals gnawing on wires, no loose connections ... just a simple hitting of a "reset" button on the modem -- a button I didn't even know existed. Now I am working my way through a withdrawal from my withdrawal.

1 comment:

  1. Well Brother, I can appreciate the matter. A few years back, my Mate & I were intensely involved in an internet group we were co-moderating. Both of us are also avid writers. At a certain point, we moved up into the high Cascade mountain range to build a cabin, and so were without any internet for about 2 months. At first, we felt the similar withdrawal effects as you described, but eventually we came to truly enjoy our reluctantly new-found freedom. Some amazing writing was scratched out in our notebooks, but more than that, just being able to utilize that freed-up time that otherwise would have been spent in front of the cathode ray tube was a revelation, for which we were both grateful. What at first appeared as a sense of forced isolation was actually a portal into a different kind of connectivity, particulrly with nature, as we explored the redwood forests and the near-by river, and re-acquainted ourselves with the world of the primal elements. All in all, it was a time we came to treasure. If you recall, Buddha recommended alternating times in community with times in reclusive hermitage, and that is some wisdom that most of us could benefit from, even if it means unplugging the electronics for a while and just letting whatever wants to fill the resulting void do so.