Ten Minute Tech


It’s new–all of it: this iPad, the keyboard and my unruffled attitude toward crap out of my control. I’ve spent far too long getting angry. I still dive in too deeply. My rage takes over in the car as if there is no driver–the brain–to put the brakes on, say, “Wait a minute here before you let the profanity spew and boiling temperature rise up and befoul the air.” So when I dropped my device, cracked its screen to smithereens, even broke the keyboard attached in one fell swoop, I became aware that the immediate response differed from the usual alarm, outrage and certain anger that trail out on the path to no one’s advantage.

No doubt I regretted the loss, felt the twinges of its absence. After all, I spend much of my writing life and relaxation on this little wonder of technology. Without it, I would have to re-arrange my life not just a little. Instead of writing wherever I find most comfortable–on my bed propped up with downy pillows, in a new-found coffee shop on the fly, on a browsing bench in a book store–the loss would require my having to sit at my desk at the pc. Not that I don’t already do that. I just like convenience, portability and options.

The iPad mini, most often tucked in my purse, afforded me a notebook to tap out my thoughts as they occurred. Only a writer finds necessity in something so expensive for that purpose. The truth is, however, I hardly write longhand any more. Typing allows my mind to race and my fingers to fly. Though the pen and paper still have their place (nothing like the texture of various writing instruments in hand gliding over paper), I depend on a keyboard for the lion’s share of my writing.

I had to. I buckled up, hunkered down, sucked it up and coughed up the bucks to buy a new Apple IPad Mini 32 gb and Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. What’s not new, decidedly, is my word choice. This ten minute ditty crawls with clich├ęs. Situational irony–sort of. Writing in the new with the way too old and tired (ought to be retired).

cause and effect

Though once a huge fan, I have become disenchanted with cause and effect. Formerly hailed as counterpart of or precondition to logic, itself some powerful amulet to ward off irrational emotion since the Age of Reason, cause and effect aka reasons or origins, somehow dissolve into explanations and/or excuses, thereby de-motivating change.

For example, my struggles with anger, judgment and mind-chatter, seem endless. Now, I certainly can and have traced the origins of each of those behaviors as inherent or learned. My father flips into uncontrollable, body shaking, nerve-wracked rage on a hair trigger. His primary feature, besides negative, might be dubbed anger. Whereas my mother never was prone to anger–as much. But she was awfully judgmental, and over the border of cautious into the territory of suspicious. She was quick witted, the product of an agile mind, but also quick to judge. She carried pre-conceived notions and prejudices: “That long-haired boy is dirty,” she once complained to me, though I knew intimately well that he showered–with soap and shampoo–daily. 

The mind chatter may be inherited or environmentally induced or unique to me, though I seriously doubt it. Mind chatter is nearly everyone’s 21st century (and much, much longer) problem. But analysing roots to my own traits and those of my husband, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and parents is a favorite pasttime in the post-Freudian/Jung era. My family loves to do it. However, tracing origins does little to eradicate unwanted behaviors and knee-jerk reactions. In fact, the comfort, even downright smug confidence, in the careful analysis of reasons–for me anyhow–thwarts efforts to eliminate unthinking behavior by believing the job half completed.

No doubt changing behavior, especially ingrained thinking patterns and involuntary reactions, is enormously difficult for most. It is for me. Most emotional reactions go unrecorded, unthought of. My litany in the driver’s seat on any given day is one such example. An hour of yoga in the morning concentrating on and then achieving a connectedness with the universe, its inhabitants and all that exists flies out the car window a half hour later in the 15 minute, muttering-filled drive to school: “What are you some kind of a moron?” I might ask aloud to the car swerving into my lane ahead of me, without a mite’s notice. The violence of that question, that mindset, goes completely undetected mostly. Maybe not undetected, but completely unrestrained in the uttering. 

And then I judge myself for lack of control, criticizing myself–Miss Yoga–for the irony and absurdity, for its impeding progress to judge and anger less and focus on chatter-free presence more. Now, I might lapse into congratulating myself for a clever analysis of the causes for such “bad” behavior, like lack of sleep, lack of yoga, lack of control, lack of you name it, when that happens. Knowing and admitting my weaknesses is half the battle, right? That is the psychological lore anyhow.

But that comfort in doing half the work–incorrect math–is illusory, justificatory, rationalization. Enormous effort effects change, enables me–or anyone–to cease automatic behaviors acquired before consciousness. First, the mind chatter must quiet, reduced by half at least, so as to hear, see and smell immediate surroundings of the moment. Quieter still, to “listen” to emotional reactions as they occur or watch them arise. And then neutral observation may have a chance once the way is paved–stillness–to regard the workings of the mind and body. If I can watch the anger gather me up in the car (or anywhere I perceive my efforts thwarted or my path blocked), note it and think of it without judgment, I might short-circuit the cyclic occurrence, the connection between driving and anger severed–one street of one drive at a time. Baby steps. 

The requisite discipline overwhelms me just the thought of it, sometimes. I am too tired to separate myself out like that most days. But at least I know I have this problem and how to fix it, right? Wrong. Cause and effect unconsciously, silently and insidiously strikes just like that.