Up with the light after the red sting of a day in the sun at Lost Lake put me to bed by 9:05pm. The sky is clear blue-black at 4:00am like looking into space through the halo of the earth’s atmosphere…at least that is what I imagine Jim Lovell saw through the tiny triangle corner window of Apollo 13, you know, like the one’s cars used to have with the handy flip latch that let you push them open from the inside. The fish tank bubbles away, the refrigerator hums and that 18-year-old mexican blanket of mine is outside on the chair beside the bar-b-q. The world spins beneath our feet and somewhere outside the digital age clocks are ticking…10 minutes and 10 ten days.
10 minutes and 10 days.
In 10 minutes and 10 days the spring became the summer, two skiers poached DOA on Blackcomb in July (Mike D and Hoji), Parko slashed his foot and can’t compete at J-Bay, Tony Hawk and the Birdhouse tour rocked Berlin, the Tour De France spun through the toughest opening week I have ever seen (Ryder in 3rd in the GC going into the alps…it’s live on Versus Tracker on the other tab) and so much more meaningful stuff on Twitter and Facebook (slowly but certainly becoming the same thing… Q. Why don’t you follow us on FB? A. 140 characters, that’s why.) Where was I? Oh ya…so much more meaningful stuff. Is generation-i taking over?
Meanwhile, my watch stopped…the shores of green lake flooded over on the west side, my son’s friend Hayden is back from visiting Ontario with his family, we had our first play date of the summer at Lost Lake, I picked up a sunburn surrounded by kids building and smashing castles and tossing buckets of water and squeezed my water bottle through my mesh trucker hat to cool off my head while they laughed…and soaked them with another bucket of lake water when they turned their backs. Ha, ha! The AC died at the shop, was informed the AC guy can’t get in before Tuesday, found the fan in storage from the last time, Canada turned 143, the missing cat poster is still up at the mail box, I found the bike oil I lost last fall right where I left it, my one year old daughter learned how to climb up the big arm-chair and jump off (re. fall off) like her big brother, my wife put on that gorgeous brown bikini top short-shorts combo from last summer, and the familiar sound of air escaping the automatic sprinklers before the rush of water breaks the silence at 5:10am.
The old world is out there you know…the not digital one. If I put down my TAG automatic watch long enough…about two days…the second hand will stop ticking. If I don’t turn on the iPhone it won’t ring when I get an SMS text or Facebook Update. (Note: I don’t actually have an iPhone but my son’s 6-year-old friend informed me during a Battleship break on my Motorola Milestone that all smart-phones are iPhones…hmmmm, think that bit of marketing is paying off?) If we don’t turn on the TV we won’t see the violence on the commercials between The Tour commentary, if we don’t set the timer on the oven the pizza will still cook, if I don’t post a story or comment or quote on WordPress for a couple of weeks I will still write this story. The digital world is calling…like crack…like Neo following the white rabbit on the Matrix, “You need to unplug.”
If you haven’t been here before, I still write mostly in pencil…yes, on paper…and when it’s too hot to play outside we go to Meadow Park and smile when my son swims the width of the cold pool – insert me floating beside…”reach and pull and kick, kick, kick…”, checking over between stokes to make sure my wife and daughter are still watching – so proud. But put me in sight of an LCD screen with a bunch of chips and crystals attached to a battery (and a signal from a space satellite!) and I am hardwired like a trip to the candy man down 21st street on the old east side. I’m addicted. I’m addicted to time…time and the invisible fear that I might miss something. (Go ahead…say it…) I feel like I need to stand up in front of a group of junkies sitting in a circle, in too small chairs, in an after hour’s school room or community hall with a paper sign that says, “meeting here”, with bad coffee who had to leave their iPads and iPhones (insert brand X) at a table near the open door…and the eyes look to the floor with wanting as a lonely ‘bleep’ incites a reminder to turn off all devices before the meeting begins. I must have left the auto-update on…3 no 4 email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress…all on live feed electronic I.V. (did I mention the messages are coming from space?). Let’s see if you can turn that off. I didn’t think so…at least not unless you get the ‘low battery’ signal from your 4G feed that you forgot to recharge last night, ‘damn ‘. Even the contacts lists are morphing. Did you know if I pull up your phone number to text you my Android will show me your live Facebook profile pic and status update? Addicted.
10 minutes and 10 days…damn it, 10 seconds. Arghhhhhhhh!
The light went on when I finally found (committed to) 10 minutes in a lull at the shop to watch a video link a friend had posted about time 10 days earlier (http://www.whistlercitizen.com/pub/uview/the-secret-powers-of-time?id=1530).
It took me 10 days to find 10 minutes. In medias res I thought, the author, Philip Zimbardo, is either very old or very smart. While the video talks about the way our children are raised I knew instinctively it’s not about the children, it’s about me. It’s not about kids, or A.D.D., or ritalin, or the top 2% of math students in the nation before computers…that’s another story…it’s about why I can’t focus until the counter is clear, and the illusionary frustration of waiting for The Tour live feed to catch up to the cable feed on TV (yes, I know)…or why both are on the same event at the same time in the same room. Click, refresh, click, click, double-click…it’s me. I am generation-i. It’s time to unplug.
Long Pause…but I can’t. (I couldn’t call the story ‘Addicted’ if I could, could I?) I am addicted to time. Yes, I am. I want to know what is happening with Kelly Slater in J-Bay South Africa tomorrow as much as I want a $5.00 chai latte twice a day (but I don’t drink 2 a day so maybe I am only half way gone.) More than the novelty, or curiosity, the knowledge or the fantasy, in the true spirit of the social media game, more than anything, I think I just want to be connected. I said to a friend once, “I don’t do this (write) to make a difference but sometimes it does...”, and in the same breath, it is important, no, it is life incognate to remember that this amazing digital world is just that…digital. Life begins when my watch stops and the battery on the iPhone is dead and I wake up from that crystal dream.
beep, beep, beep…