I went to school back when technology was something people knew a lot about or a little, depending on what they did for a living. For example, the scientist, mathematician, artist, doctor or chef knew next to nothing about technology first-hand. Instead, they deferred to the philosopher, psychologist or economist to explain to them what tech was and where it was relevant. This may explain why doctors still know less about using technology than, say, a graphic artist. For the latter, like the architect, knowing how to use the latest technology is critical to what they do. For the physician, what is critical is what they know — what’s in their brains and how good they are at utilizing what they’ve learned/remembered from ‘practice’.
So tech has changed a great deal in 30 years. Even those of us who use all kinds of electronic tools or toys each day, and that’s everybody here, know very little about the back story to technology as we now live with it. Here is where a little animation might fit in nicely, if you’ve not seen some of the RSA animate talks on YouTube, check out the links at the bottom. Not to digress much, technology has provided a means for people to calm themselves, to feel a part of the bigger thing that’s going on and to have that sense of being in the know. But when you just check yourself out in the morning or evening or afternoon quiet, do you really believe you know what’s going on and what you are a part of? The reason why many of us don’t (if we’re honest), is that tech was never meant to provide these things to you. The objects of technology are meant to be treated objectively as a proxy for real experience–a surrogate. In that sense, a music and video player provides me with a substitute for the experience of sitting in front of a person playing a tune with people running around doing things while the music is playing. It’s stimulating to sit by a creek and simply hear the movement of the water rumbling along its path. All of my senses are stimulated by it. Not just my eyes and ears. What about my sense of touch, or smell and taste.
You know, space has a lot to do with technology. If you don’t have any space to stretch out in, you can make believe you do by just playing with a pocket device, like a portable game or music player. These provide a false feeling of ‘ok-ness;’ but then there’s the let down after using up all of the songs, the levels, the minutes, the something that is measured and usually priced. Unlimited minutes and data are great, though, aren’t they? That should do it. Why doesn’t it? Remember, I started by writing that technology is not well understood by those whom you would think use it the most. The artist, which I am not, understands the limits of technology quite well. She knows that tools extend her reach onto the canvas or with the raw material which she is about to fashion into an image that expresses … something. The computer and a program enables her to render more from her imagination than mere sticks and oils ever could. But she knows there is a creative cost for her excursion into the realm of surfeit tools and processed manipulations. Technology says what you can do. But who or what says you should do it? Did you get the memo; were your parents or mine asked whether we wanted easy access to friends and neighbors with the click of a button or the flip of a switch? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. It’s just that I did not order it or know it was on the menu.
Until now — or let’s say 20 years ago, we could see most things coming and decide if and when we wanted them to arrive at our doorstep. As it is today, we don’t know what is coming next; and if it arrives tomorrow in our inbox or as a tweet or a scroll on our wall, we will only be able to say OMG, right. Maybe because I’m old, I don’t see the value in having my sensibilities attacked constantly in this way. When you turn on the TV, you must have the remote handy or you are likely to be experience emotions that you aren’t prepared for. You must protect yourself, because we’ve lost control over the things that have been made. And our privacy is compromised, big time. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. People are not as comfortable with themselves as we used to be. So many may feel like they don’t particularly want to be alone, have waking time to themselves. The phone rings, there’s a text, a twit, a message all of the time. Makes you feel kind of special, until you look at it objectively. Look, I think it matters that you feel good about yourself. Go ahead and utilize all the tools and gadgets tech has provided us with to maintain that comfort. Just don’t forget that the thing is not the thing. Friends on face book are not friends in my living room or at my kitchen table or next to me on the beach. The latter folks never ask to be my electronic friend. They visit, call, and touch me in the old-fashioned ways.
Be like the artist. Use these fun things to get serious work done–for your school, your town and your planet. Check out websites like Open Culture, Kevin Kelly and TED to find out about real stuff. I mean, tech is great for looking out of your window (your eyes) and seeing what is happening everywhere. Then we have to decide how we are going to make a real difference in the real world, because the surrogates won’t.
All the time we stand and stare
or sit and wonder what or where
next we do what will not change
or help to overcome the strangest
feelings that are passing through
our minds belying subtle clues
From post to pillar and back again
exchanging waves as we pass by
the words are piling up inside
more channels blocked, no reasons why
I like that living here and now
is freedom to a wandering heart
and if I choose to settle here
when can a new relation start
there is a thing with sentences
verbs commanding object things
but nouns begin and end the tome
denying all the mist between
For things begin and then become
the actions pose as minor chords
the climax closes all reversals
and ends with few if any words
But always are there things to see
and hear and feel along the way
It’s just a cycle rarely lifting
above the range of yesterday
Excitement in a basket is
the fare of most or many tales
The form full of the contents read
like toggled ships without their sails
When times arise to create to conquer
the charge announced to launch and run
Go, to make a fortune’s change
to catch the eyes of everyone
The family meeting.
Good morning everyone. It’s time for a word about family. This time of year, people start to get chills and want to be inside with people who can help us feel warm inside and out. I have a sister who cooks like the world should be waiting outside the door for a plate. She cooks great in quality and quantity. But I go see her because she is a family hero – taking in her grandchildren to care for them while my niece works some things out. What we see people doing outside the family is what you can’t do inside, and that is hide the truth. We all have attitudes and dispositions and opinions that the Supreme Court should hear when it comes to this one or that one that you knew since they were born. I’m saying, “they are not the problem.” Once in a while – used to be 3x a day – they can be a pain in the neck. Is it the neck? But as grown folks, we realize that my family always has me, and if someone knows your stuff and still loves you, it doesn’t get any better. It’s time to call them up or go for a visit to say, Hey, how you doing. I just needed to check on you since you mean the world to me. Some of us have a few friends that fit in here too; and you are highly favored. The world outside of this love is closing in on some of us. So in response we have to gather our love nodes together and push outward. Like, go with your sibling to court, or to the doctor, or shopping, or to a restaurant, or to church or a movie, or to city council or to the concert, or to the park or for a walk down their block. For people who think they know you or your sister, they will see and think differently, because yall have the support that you need, and you can bring what you share to the larger world. What if a church did this? That would be newsworthy. The only response to the madness is the love response. So build your team of family and friends and let’s go. Hotep.
This road here teaches something new to everyone on it. And those things that I learn will be no match for yours; for we are not the same. As one is unique, there is mystery in the other. No, don’t let your person be simplified or broken down to make it easier for another to understand. You have a place to go – a destination state and a new land, with passport in hand. Whether you travel by air, sea, rails or roads, enjoy the going all the way. It should feel different; because what you have to share, and how you do it touches everyone and everything, to make a singular impression. That is why there is no smile like yours, no beam of light to compete with the sparkle in your eyes. I have no comment though– any words sent from my mind to these lips are dissolved by emotions and only my eyes can speak for my heart as we meet. Give me a script or I will not know how to break the spell of grace revealed in your face. Can you? No, never mind. I knew no words would come.
This road is yours to travel in peace, even as trials beset on the left and on the right; you, indeed are a follower of the light. No one yet understands enough to approach (you) carefully, sincerely and with respect. At least will I recognize the spirit of the most high God (in you), step aside, and gather my thoughts. Your spirit is admired – a witness to mercy and grace – and available to all. Having turned right to go straight, your road is adorned with natural beauty on both the left and right. As you go, may His blessing be upon you by day and by night.
I encourage anyone who can read to return to it while you can. It isn’t necessary to set aside a day or even a few hours. If you don’t have time just do a few minutes at the start, and when you find something you like you will read for longer and longer periods. Binge reading can take hold in the same way as binge watching, except with more reflection.
Where to begin this process? If you get a book, most people would start reading at the beginning. But as we have learned from other artistic communication, what seems to be page one is not always where the story began. You can crack open a book to page 27, 93 or 168 and see if those paragraphs grab you. You could read on from there with a clear conscience. When you share that you have been reading, do you think people will ask if you started at page one or chapter one. Many authors just choose to name chapters, without saying they are chapter 1, 2 and 3. When you get to a certain point in the book and wonder whether there is more backstory about a character or an event, you go to an earlier page to find out. Sometimes I am disappointed to learn that the author did not explain (to my satisfaction) who this person really is, what they were doing with the protagonist or antagonist anyway. So many questions; and then the laundry is done, or the baby wakes up, or your boss walks into your cubicle area. Whatever it is, the reading then stops.
We were supposed to get shortcuts and efficiency from our technology; then something happened, unexpectedly: since there is no end to what can be done with the gadgets we have and love to use without end, meta-authors–people writing apps for games and communication–bombard us with endless varieties of the unimportant. And they can’t be ignored. Yet, right now I will ignore them to talk about what I really want to say.
When you start something, how can we know what the beginning really is? Your first day on the job wasn’t a real first day because everyone and just about everything was already there; then you showed up. It was nice and folks said, “welcome.” Then you were in the middle of something after that. No second or third day or week. The middle may have happened a few hours after you sat down. In this life – not that other life – we awaken to the perception of things that have a long, long history. And as much as I might want a beginning or newness or to get in on the ground floor, I must accept the reality of the middle.
You meet someone in the middle of their life; and it’s the middle of yours too. As much as I want there to be a beginning of “us,” that really is not possible. What is possible is my respect for the journey that you’ve been on all this time. And, as I marvel at the story you tell me (if I am patient and listening), your middle becomes clearer to me. Someone tells me a problem or a story, and I say “OK.” This means that I respect what they have shared with me out of my interest in them. I want to know; so that if we become real friends or real traveling partners on this road of life, a growing reference of their experience exists within me as a resource for understanding. To learn someone’s heart, just listen with yours. It doesn’t mean, however, that you will get to the beginning; and we might not get to the end either.
Still there is one who tells us what was the beginning. He is even nice enough to remind us that He is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. So we need not worry. I think worry comes from believing that I have a whole lot to do with what happens, and I don’t. Now ask yourself, how much do you think the state of the world and the universe depends on two of us, or two million or two billion. There is a simple reason why believers worship: we were born out of love to experience joy. When someone hugs you (or shakes your hand) out of authentic affection, do you get a rush? I hope so.
When we embrace the living God, we are in the middle of something, together. And the peace I feel should extend from hours to days to weeks on end, being thankful. Gratitude is just a mental orientation that recognizes my position in this vast unfolding drama, as a child in awe of whatever is around that next corner. He does not lose his mind wondering about the details of clothes, food, and shelter. A child can accept things from anyone. They may not necessarily want to accept. But they can do it, because they are just going along for the ride, and always looking for a way to make it enjoyable.
In reading we take on the child’s persona; we are open to what is revealed and do not need to know how it began or why. To engage the other is to let them tell their story and be their story. If they want you to become part of the story with them, just like Huck Finn, they will invite you along for the ride.
Come along, Come along child
and sit here with me
you’ll hear a few stories
of your history
The things you won’t learn
at school during the day
that make your life mean
much more than they say
the black man has planted and sown seeds galore
but reaped only pieces of what he worked for
on the face of the man whom we hold in disdain
is a legacy of service and a lifetime of pain
He tried to be good in the schools where he went
but teachers said his worth was less than two cents
He played several sports, but not being the best
he gave up on the effort, and was ignored like the rest
He then went to parties, all dressed in his vines
brand shoes, suit and top hat complete to the nines
when some asked the question, what the party was for
he just shrugged his shoulders and did party some more
and since he was able to smoke and drink hard
he did it to his death with no other regard
Now the manchild had women and children for sure
There were those that he knew of and then there were more
He thought for a moment, how to cope with all these
and chose to be shiftless, in a life full of ease
So come along little child, this is told just for you
to make of your life something noble and true
the purpose of school is to climb that great fence
that kept others down due to fear and expense
the guards are on break now, you can quietly review
the foundations of knowledge and tools you can use
work hard, don’t you skip on the work of today
we need your help badly to make a new way
the child is our hope for a change in this land
and we love you so much, that’s why we command
that you study and strive for the most you can get
don’t worry that old heads have been losing their bets
Every life has a meaning and purpose to share
Dislike what you see? Then you just don’t go there
There’s people I know who would say to you now
Be a good boy or girl, and we will show you how
When I see my mistakes, I just want to cry
If they hurt little children, it seems I could die
So look at us elders as a book you can read
and make better choices, so that you can lead
come along little child, come along and learn well
The future is waiting for your time to tell