stories

for the information age

 

Many of us are having unprecedented digital work, educational, entertainment, medical and communication experiences. While others are on on the frontlines, providing essential services.  

 

How we can maintain our humanity, awareness of our selves and others through this amazing evolution? After all, we must live. We must work. We must love. We must, from time to time, look up and see the moon, we must see one another. These bite-sized stories chronicle my efforts, both pitiful and successful, to keep the digital world in its place – as a fantastically powerful and useful tool rather than an all-consuming way of life.

 

My hope is that they help you do the same.

christmas motive - cross section of red

Updated: May 17


I read somewhere that 85% of cellphones have fecal matter on them. In other words, touching someone else’s phone is kind of like changing their diaper. That’s why, whenever I bring my phone into the toilet with me, it’s the last time I’ll ever do it. I mean it. But then, what am I supposed to do, just sit there?


We are constantly looking for ways to improve our lives, but often overlook the matter in our hands.

Updated: May 16



I was twelve years old when I read The Old Man and the Sea for the first time. I was terribly moved by it, by its stark beauty and by the old man, who reminded me of my father, blundering and noble.


At the time, my family lived in a dilapidated farmhouse on a dirt road that meandered past neglected farms and rickety barns. The road was pot-holed, and dust spewed from the car as we drove the four miles home each afternoon. I can recall each turn and how, at one point, from a dark, wooded underpass, the road emerged into a light-filled field. Sometimes, snow made the unplowed road treacherous and the car tires spun and dug for solid ground. Or rain came down, muddying the way, making the car slip and splash around bends. On days like these, even though we were passengers, we paid strict attention to the road. But mostly, this drive provided stretches of the day devoted only to quiet observation.


Hemmingway said of the old man in his skiff, since there was nothing to read and he did not have a radio, he thought much...


If ancient tree boughs arching over a dirt road can console or offer meaning, well, that's what they did. Those were the days when kids would look out of the car window, watch the landscape, and dream.


At the appointed time, hundreds of us log on to the virtual memorial service. We gather to mourn in one another's living rooms, home offices and bedrooms. As the first prayer is read, our faces are blank; we are unsure how to behave, how to grieve in this format.


Some of us sit on imagined pews, upright and pious; others of us rest elbows on tables, heads in hands. A few of us wear black; one entire family is in sport shorts. Once the ceremony is underway, some of us remain church-still, and others come in and out of the screen to let the dog out, or tend to wayward children. One woman eats dinner during the eulogy, looking up between bites of stew. As a loved one reads a poem, her voice catches, falters and she cries aloud onscreen. In unison, we bow our heads, dab our eyes. When we have to look away, we gaze absent-mindedly into each other's homes. A couple sits in front of an enormous landscape painting; brushstrokes of every possible shade of green move across the canvas. My god, we wonder, stupidly, is that a Kandinsky?


Meanwhile, as the grown son of the dead man weeps in muted, sorrowful heaves, none of us can put an arm around him to say, I know, I know.