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Swamp Thoughts

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Computer: Friend or Foe?

Sometimes I wonder about how much easier the computer has made my life and others. The computer, along with your friends and family, have become one of those things we try to "get away from" when we take a vacation, or, go to a retreat. If computers made life so much easier and enriching, wouldn't you see it at Buddhist temples and campgrounds? We take computerized gadgets with us everywhere, it seems, but as soon as we talk about getting away from it all, we're talking about doing something that involves using our physical body, like knitting (hands), swimming (arms and legs), reading a book (eyes), meditating (whole body and mind), walking (legs), canoeing, camping, and so on. We want to do things that involve human interaction with their physical world. We steer clear from sitting and typing, and surfing the Internet.

I find it quite amusing, too, when people who can't get away from computers, start to give the computers human traits. Suddenly the computer is mocking you, won't do what you're telling it to do, you get angry with it, you love it, you can't stand it, it's sympathetic to your needs, and so on and so forth. So, what is the computer to us? It causes us stress? Or rather, we allow ourselves to become stressed through our use of it. The computer, allowing us to do several tasks more efficiently has convinced us that it also plays an integral part of our emotional lives. And with that, it has become a source of fear, stress, and yes, love.

My view is that the computer is neither friend or foe. It is a tool that we use to accomplish tasks. Any stress it causes us is put upon ourselves to ourselves. We are, in essence, our worst enemy. We know how to push our buttons and we know how to hide behind the objects that are our scape goats. Indeed, Man vs. Machine, is, at least on the emotional level, Man vs. Man (Himself).

Now, I must say, I enjoy a good horror movie where a mad scientist or engineer creates an object or a monster that chases down and creatively maims or kills people, but that, again, is Man vs. Man, on the basis of intellect versus survival instict. What the mad antagonist is doing, is using the machine, or monster, to do her bidding. The machine is not friend or foe, it is the tool of the antagonist. The threat, as you may notice in the movies, is (most of the time), to stop the mad antagonist behind the machine or monster. Otherwise, like Jason, the machine or monster keeps coming back.

Which reminds me, I have something to fix....

Brain Warts and What Causes Them: A Love Story

About 2 weeks ago, I made a sudden realization about my current situation: even though I have no cash coming in, nobody who wants to buy my house, and a dwindling speck of a bank account, I like my life. Instead of having several small things constantly zipping around my worry wart (in my brain), I only have one big issue to deal with: how do I get money?

Now, considering that is the only worry I have of late, I'd say life is pretty good. Money, a big issue, can be solved as soon as I sell my house, or, by getting a temp job. I like that I don't have to worry about a thousand issues at work, my dog, my house, my cars, my relationships, and so many other things. I can now do the chores at home that I wanted to do. I can volunteer my time helping non-profit organizations, I can take classes, learn new skills for my next career leap, and you know, I don't feel drained at the end of the day. I finally feel that I've completed things and I've done a lot of productive things. I feel motivated to do more and I'm generally content.

Now, I don't seem to get around to everything that I would like to. It's strange that I am busier now than I was when I was working. I guess I could use work as an excuse (and a valid one at that) to not to the other things that needed attention: my dog, my house, my cars, my garden, and so forth. I didn't have the energy, time, or inclination to do much more than work and drive to and from work. But the payback was money, and that was everything. I even consoled my dog by saying to her, "I have to leave you. I have to work to make the money that feeds you and buys your vet visits." You know, she never understood, but she accepted it. And I did, too. But I have a better grasp of my priorities now, and I have a lot of time where I can nap or do nothing. Which is something.

So, what I'm saying is that I don't regret quitting work when I did. I would have been miserable, and for what: money? That, I now know, isn't worth it. Life isn't meant to be put on hold. Living, and taking in all that comes with it, is what fascinates me. I'm not going to stay at an unfulfilling job when I can use that time to pursue what satisfies my values. Making the world a safer, peaceful, and synchronous place to live is what I would like to pursue. And I will do it: one person at a time, starting with me.