I’ve spent too much time lately railing against the omnipresence of cell phones, laptops and so forth, and resisting attempts to persuade me to buy an iPhone. I get along pretty well with a pink thing called a Jitterbug that has a large key pad, makes and receives calls, doesn’t text—I hate the idea of sending snippets to friends and family all day long.
But whenever I am very vehement, as in this case, I suspect something else is hidden under my overheated response.
Walking back this evening in the orange light of the setting sun, I thought of how difficult it is to stay in the moment, no matter where that moment takes place, even in the familiar but yet ever-surprising beauty if Santa Fe.
I don’t remember when it happened, or even if it did happen, but it seems to me that when I was around five, I discovered that the way to survive my emotional wounding—and we all have to survive emotional wounding, at some time or another—was to NOTICE: to lose my sense of my own pain in studying my surroundings, whether it was the fallen magnolia petals I turned into faces or the ugly darting beak of a broody hen.
This method of obscuring or blunting pain still works for me, sometimes. But it won’t work, can’t work, if I’m holding a cell phone to my ear or tapping away on my laptop.
But then I had to consider that the other masking measure for pain is distraction—even the distraction of what we call retail therapy, which works at least as well as food, gossip, or drink.
So why should I rail against what seems to provide other people with the relief provided by a sense of community?
Because, I think, community in the end is not what it’s all about—at least for artists. What we see, hear and smell is the core of our work, and the core of our survival.
Community is delightful, and I wish I had more of it. But in the end, the pangs of fear—fear of desolation, fear of death, desertion, heartbreak, miserable misunderstandings—won’t be placated by community—unless I use community for endless complaining, usually about other people.
The only solace—and on this dark evening it feels poor and thin—is my open-eyed observation of what lies around me.
I wonder if anyone else feels this way?