Lessons from a New Toy

October 21, 2008

I have a new toy. It is an exquisitely beautiful piece of technology. Slim, colourful, versatile, advanced, I could go on and on. It is an Apple iPod touch. I have lusted after one of these for many months. My iPod mini is still functional but oh so passé. All it does is play music while my new “touch” has wi-fi, a disc that is four times as big,  can do e-mail, my calendar, tell me the weather, show me the way – its functions seem unlimited. I delay the moment where I give it life. It sits in its minimalist Perspex case, barely larger than the palm of my hand waiting on me to synchronize it. I delay the moment by twelve hours luxuriating in the expectancy of what is about to come. Finally the time arrives. It is a Wednesday morning. My gratification is delayed as invisible sealing tape prevents me from accessing my new charge. At last it nestles in the palm of my hand and I press all the buttons I can see. It glistens into life – “take me to your computer” it instructs or some such verbiage. Eagerly I take it upstairs and plug it into my iMac. Things start to happen. I follow the on-screen instructions – registration, syncing my music, pictures, internet bookmarks, e-mail, my calendar, wi-fi connection. It is all happening in front of my expectant eyes. All is ready. I notice the excitement as I start to experiment with the different keys. I send my friend Philip its first e-mail. It felt like a christening. Should I wet the baby’s head? Perhaps not – a wiser voice prevails.
I set off for an acupuncture session my baby in my pocket. I plan to buy it some birthday gifts, perhaps a protective cover and a travel charger. I share my newborn with Melissa my TCM. She is impressed perhaps even a wee bit envious. “I want one” she says. Just the thing every proud parent wants to hear. After my session I coolly enter my next appointment into my calendar and head off to buy gifts. A little later I emerge from the store with my purchases in hand. I can’t wait to get home so I decide to give my baby its new clothes. I slip it into the calfskin leather protector – only the best will do. I press the activation button curious to see whether I can access an Internet signal. To my alarm the button symbols start to gyrate as though they are being impacted by a mini earthquake. Then the screen suddenly goes blank. No warning – just Kaput. Oh no is my baby sick?
I walk rapidly home deferring my plans for a walk. I don’t feel comfortable delaying treatment for my ailing offspring. I plug it in to recharge the battery and check the battery symbol indicates there is a charge. Perhaps it is something more serious than a flat battery. I go on line to Apple and download the user’s manual. I review trouble shooting, then battery and nothing seems to cover what had recently transpired. I unplug the itouch and for a moment all seems well. Perhaps I imagined it and had just pressed a default button in error. I get ready for my walk then activate the device. And then it happens again, right in front of my disbelieving eyes, everything blanks off the screen leaving total darkness. I am crushed. I can’t leave without taking some action. I get on-line and try and access Apple Support. It checks out my warranty and advises me that I do not qualify to speak to a person. How weird I only purchased it yesterday, it has a year warranty but I can only work through a machine. Somewhat resigned I start to follow the on screen instructions for on-line support. Gradually my frustration level increases. First it won’t accept my password that it had accepted less than three hours before when I registered the iPod. Then it tells me my customer identity is incorrect, next it allows me to set a new password but immediately afterwards refuses to recognize it. Like the cork in an open bottle of champagne I feel the pressure rising. I want to shout my annoyance at the machine but what good would that do. I spend what seems like an age to try and find some way through this “catch 22” I can’t get on-line support without logging in but the system will not allow me to log in. Finally I find a contact e-mail for customer suggestions. Angrily I fire off an e-mail which just shouts out “I am mad as hell” Finally I go out for my long delayed walk and coffee.
It takes quite a while before I finally even observe how off balance I have become. Only after my coffee is almost finished do I notice myself. My racing thoughts, my unreasonable attachment to outcomes and finally the laughing realization that I have become trapped in my own drama. I start to switch my attention from dwelling on my iPod drama to my breath. Five deep breaths help to move me into the witness place and realize the absurdity of the whole thing. I walk on with the following refrain in my mind “breathing in I calm body and mind, breathing out I am at peace.” I relax. I gain a sense of proportion once again. In hindsight I can’t believe how enmeshed I got into the experience. For something that is so relatively unimportant. What a fascinating journey and how slow I am to learn. What really matters is what is going on at deeper level. I resolve to draw a rune when I get home to see if it throws any light on the affair. I can now see the obvious about getting attached and off balance, trying to fix things and attempting to plough through the obstacles without bringing myself back to centre. It is so easy just five slow breaths but I have to remember to take them. Suddenly I laugh. This morning I had been journaling about what to write about in my blog. I had written ‘Where will I go for material if not from my own life story?” I guess I had created my source once again. I draw a rune. Sowelu or Wholeness. “Practice the art of doing without doing; aim yourself truly and then maintain your aim without manipulative effort.” Good advice!