My contract with my cellphone provider expired this week, and no sooner was that blood-ink wiped clean and my soul freed, did I receive a phone call wondering/ pressuring/ expecting (deals! Deals! DEALS!!!) me to sign myself to another round of the Inferno. I surprised myself when I said “no.” Didn’t even have to think about it, though I allowed the nervous agent to practice his script–even told him he did a great job listing all the features before hanging up. In a related event, unknown to me at the time, I sold my beastly gaming-computer this weekend (custom-made by the well-mannered, highly informed, tech wizards at Signa PC here in Toronto). Reflecting now, I see that these excisions have been part of my ongoing culling of unnecessary technology, of freeing up wasted time and resources.
You see: there’s been a shift in my obsession toward gadgets as I’ve gotten older. When I was a child, all I had was my imagination: books, make-believe, parks and playgrounds that I could pretend were ancient ruins. Video games changed a lot of how I spent my recreational time. Rather than imagine, I could literally visit these worlds, which became ever more complex and engaging as I got older, instead of becoming something–like a toy–that I would look back on as a relic only to be enjoyed by children. (Of course, people who loathe video games, like my partner, still argue that video games are toys 🙂 ) A runoff occurred, probably around the time phones got really “smart”, and suddenly I could use my phone to visit these worlds, or other pieces of written/ video/ musical fantasy on a whim, without being home and connected to one place and screen.
I think I lost myself for a while in the Technology Jungle, and only recently–by stopping extraneous use of these devices outside of work–have I begun to find my way out of the wilds. I’m not transitioning into an anachronistic technophobe; haven’t started ordering rotary phones. But I am returning to more of that boy, that child of wonder, who didn’t need to live in other people’s worlds as much as his own. Arriving at the end of my journey with this saga of Geadhain has been both a homecoming and an awakening. This is the world in my head, and it’s as real and extraordinary as any of the others that I could lose myself to.
For a day my desk had an empty space where Mr. Beastly Computer had sat, which I’ve since filled with old books, dictionaries and other “relics” of my literary career. I have an iPhone 6 Plus (not an “S”), which is about two years old now, and which won’t see a replacement until it dies a peaceful death after what I hope will be several more years of service. I don’t even use my laptop for writing, rather I’m working exclusively on an iPad Pro that I bought on an unsanctioned ‘treat yourself’ day, and from which I’m determined to get mileage. (Always a bad idea: thinking that because you had your first good pay check, you should go and blow most of it on stuff–pay your mortgage, put it away, do something, anything, more sensible.)
We should not buy things we do not intend to use–and if we do, accidentally, we should find new homes for those items with people who would use them. In addition to the customary personalized ornaments we give, which should never lose their sentimentality, our nieces and nephews are getting old iPads and well-preserved PS3s for Christmas–and they’ll adore them (parents are another story). No need to throw out what could be given away, or actually used. And you know what? My giant iPad, cloud-based work setup is great: does everything a PC does, it’s lighter than a laptop, and I’m never worried about not being close to a power source. It’s good enough. Will I get an iPad Pro 2? Almost definitely not. We’ll see what’s out in three years when this one joins my phone in the Graveyard of Stuff.
We have so much stuff, and that greed doesn’t have an end until we establish boundaries. Indeed, we could spend our whole lives hunting and accumulating treasures/ trash, but for what purpose? What is lost and sacrificed by our need to have the latest, greatest, or more? Time with our families, friends, children and pets. An ability to chase our own dreams and worlds. Neither of those blessings are worth the sacrifices I’d have to make, the stories on Earth and on Geadhain that I might miss, when consumed in the chase of wanting what I don’t really need. Take a look around your home and see what you need, what’s really important to your life and family. Keep the sentimental stuff, along with however much material wealth you need for comfort (and that varies person to person–I’m not suggesting you toss all your non-essentials in a bin), and try to rediscover the use of rusty items in your treasure-trove. Whatever you’re not using would be better off in the hands of others.
All my love,
P.S. My tattoo post was delayed, as I haven’t gotten it yet. Also coming up, we’ve got some pretty serious discussions on politics, pipelines and the continued progressive spearheading of Netflix’s stellar programming. Such pieces need a bit more time in the oven, though, for research and fact-checking. There’s enough uninformed spew on the internet–I’d rather not contribute to the misinformation. Finally, in the spirit of Halloween, my dark fantasy epic will be on sale, beginning on the 31st of October (tomorrow).