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.
Human history is filled with messages and stories told primarily in pictures and through impressions (feelings) expressed without words. It seems, on observation, that the spoken word takes up an small portion of all thing conveyed between us; and the written word, even less. So how did the written word, which historically held the least influence over the affairs of man, come to dominate the earth as we know it today? For me, an even more urgent question is whether that which is written matters anymore right now. I do think that it will have its place- a permanent one- in our history and future. But in order for us to have a future, the thoughts, actions, tradition and culture of the new world will need to occupy the center of the global stage. And much of what will be revealed will be of the former manifestation–i.e. they will be visual and impressionistic. Words will have to take a backseat, if only for practical reasons. Most of us don’t have words to convert our thoughts into; we are very happy to navigate life with a minimal vocabulary, consisting of code words and phrases that everyone around me understands. A recent addition to our lexicon comes from the social media sphere, with lots of abbreviations, emoticons and other symbols that puts everyone on the same page, whether it is a good or not so good page to be on. Smiles, frowns and gestures cover a wide range of life situations, telling us what is OK and what is not, again with the fewest words, if any. Just nod if you agree or shake your head, if not.
We have so many languages because we could not agree with one another or appeal to the centralized and cosmic authority of our source. Talking about God or the One who originated the universe and our presence here makes for major challenges, perhaps the greatest that mankind has experienced to the present era. So, what to do with all that has been said and written. Don’t burn or bury it; that won’t help. Because people speaking the same language had (and still have) a lot of trouble getting along with each other, different languages emerged to referee major conflicts; and land borders, if not sea borders have kept us from fighting all the time. But day by day, we are reminded that something has to got to give.
What are the words? Can they help us now? I suggest we get back to basics. Inside of you there are answers; words are not completely necessary if you ask yourself honestly what you should do. Keep asking, then do what your heart says is right where you are, with whom you share space and some time. I am going to start there.
You know, it should be those of us who have been doing (and playing) word games all this time who are most aware of our thoughts and actions. It wasn’t long after completing a second college degree when I realized how useless books were in the real world. They can give roads and even provide directions, but if I don’t know where I should go or want to go, education becomes a burden, and the words deceive me. Actions are true, be they good or bad; at least they proceed from the heart. More often than not, they associate with our needs. What someone is thinking shows in their deeds sooner or later; we know this, and speak to each other very politely in the meantime.
This is a thought, shared the only way I could this morning – in a gift-wrapped word package.
She said to him, I want you to know what I’m thinking. And as he sighed and looked into her face, the words came forth soft and easily, “We should go to the movies more than we do, or on a date somewhere. We always go to restaurants, and the same ones. I’m getting a little bored.” He smiled, as his go to reaction to many surprising, but not surprising revelations that emerge in their evening conversation. “Ok,” he replied, “what do you suggest we do to avoid this encroaching state of boredom?” She had a ready answer that had to do with a Broadway show that her friends told her about only this afternoon. “There’s a show called Macey that’s opening in Manhattan this weekend! Counselors in my department were talking about it this morning.” So how many of them are going? he asked, feigning an unlikely interest in the idea.
“Eight of us, so far, including you and me. We talked about getting a luxury limo rental, and going in style.” And there were many more details discussed and even decided already than she explained standing in the kitchen, stirring up leftover spaghetti from yesterday’s dinner. Like wearing matching “black-tie” colors and eating shrimp hors d’oeuvres during the ride over – from the catering company she used for her sisters bridal shower last year. The only thing he could think about was whether any one of their friends had pushed back on planning such an elaborate event. And what was the “Macey” show about anyway. Why go now. He was able to get online later that night to find out about the show.
In the meantime, Mya, his longtime girl, only really wanted him to consent to the affair without knowing all the preparations that were going into it. No particular barriers prevented them from making a great splash during the 3 day holiday weekend. They could afford it, whether they split the cost or he fronted $950 or so on his card to cover them both. To satisfy his curiosity, Glen agreed to go along with Mya’s whole plan, even if he had stopped listening to the details several minutes ago. While he knew his motive for participation would differ from hers, he would be surprised by how much.
He sat on the sofa with his tablet later that night and looked up the play and show, Macey. Glen found that it was about people searching for themselves in the current era, living in a town not far from New York City–upstate near Albany. An enclave of affluent Asian, African and middle eastern graduates had settled there, at least long enough to make a dent in their accounting, coding and project management careers with a few companies in an east coast office park. They had friends working at Starbucks, the computer store and other service gigs. Some had kids and spouses. The play surrounds their conversations, debates and decisions affecting their work and personal lives. And it takes a while to find out about Macey. What Glen did learn from his initial search whet his appetite before he started dozing on the couch and went to bed.
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.