There is so much noise in modern life.
There is an incredible amount of noise, really.
Aural noise, visual noise, olfactory noise, tactile nose… a general level of background noise that is shocking once you notice it.
Thing is, it’s hard to notice. I only notice now because the room that I call my “office” has recently been moved as we remodel the house to accommodate new bedrooms as the children get older.
And so I sit here, in an only partially “done” room, with white walls and an empty desk and a few books. All of the “optimizations” made to the space over many years, which often involve additional items, gadgets, connectors, cables, fixtures, and so on—as well as several lights in several areas of the room to illuminate key things or spaces—they are not here yet.
Instead, everything is a tad gray.
And very quiet.
And there is a decent amount of space.
And it’s just me and a keyboard and a screen.
— § —
I’m not sure I’m doing the right things with my life.
To clarify, I’m quite positive that I’m not doing the things that I wish I was doing, but that’s a separate question.
In general, I tell myself that I do what I do out of a sense of necessity, responsibility, and expedience. I tell myself that what I do must be done, and that this is the way of things.
Sometimes, I even look sideways a bit, mentally at least, at all of the people out there that aren’t holding up “their end of the bargain,” whether in personal life, in family life, or in society more broadly.
But then there are times like now.
— § —
When a room is empty, when all the noise has suddenly been attenuated a bit, you are brought back to a deeper reality in a very visceral way.
With Twitter in front of you, you never ask things like, “What does it meant that I am sitting here, alive? And what should I do next.”
It’s hard to ask yourself questions like that in a typical office, even if there isn’t a Twitter or a Facebook or a list of work tasks in front of you.
Such questions can only be noticed, hanging in the air as they always do and always have done, when there are no things and no people immediately calling for your attention.
They are quiet questions.
They don’t yell.
— § —
In the modern era, we have an incredible dispersion of incredible tools. They multiply everywhere. They fill our sights and our lives with facility.
We use them to make carnivals where we then play for hours, weeks—maybe months, years on end.
We don’t generally use them to make anything.
So much for Heidegger’s building and dwelling.
It’s life as a visitor’s event. You go on a quick tour, try out all the little rides and shops and possibilities, never really paying attention to any of them.
— § —
There is this tendency in modern western society to say something about the Buddhists when talk goes in this direction.
Lots of people now have Buddha statues in their houses and books by the Dalai Lama. Often, they are impossible to get along with.
Usually, they are as shallow as puddles on pavement.
They’ve consumed it like they’ve consumed the rest, and they’re carrying it with them like a Bloomingdale’s bag and showing off their new threads just a bit.
— § —
Every now and then, the kids ask me what my favorite color is.
I always say the same thing.