The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle

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Silent Symphony and Magic

Have you ever sat in silence and just listened to the noise? The ticking of the clock, the deep breath of a puppy fast asleep, the wind as it winds through rows of houses, the creeks and pops of a shifting structure, the blood pumping through your ears, all creating the symphony that literally is the sound of silence.

I doubt many of us experience silence any more between our smartphone addiction and the constant compulsion to be entertained.

For almost a year now, I’ve been preoccupied with the ‘Outlander’ book series by Diana Gabaldon, which mostly takes place in the 1700s and leaves me endlessly wondering how I would function in a time outside of my own.

The necessity of entertainment is replaced with the essential function of living. Binge watching Netflix is replaced with making sure there is food for dinner. Everyone has a job to do, and time is not to be wasted.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about churning butter, boiling water to wash the clothes I’ve been wearing for the last week or even spending 30 minutes trying to light a fire.

I do have to be concerned with not eating or wearing the same thing two days in a row, and keeping up with everyone else’s daily “struggles” on social media. #FirstWorldProbs

Even my dogs’ purpose would shift from serving as household enjoyment to hunting and aiding in the home’s survival. However, it’s difficult for me to picture two miniature dachshunds doing anything except squeaking a fuzzy toy and snuggling on a pile of blankets.

It’s almost terrifying to imagine a world of silence without the technology and bustling lifestyle we’re used to today. How does one survive without contacts to correct your vision, a microwave to heat up a bite to eat or a television to sustain a level of noise to mute the silence?

I wouldn’t know the first thing about baking bread from scratch, butchering a chicken, gathering edible plants or building a fire without a match or lighter.

I can tell you how to turn on the XBox with voice commands, flicking the light switch to the ‘on’ direction, which button to press on the microwave based upon the food you want to eat and how to update your status on Facebook. I can’t tell you how any of this stuff actually works.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” -Arthur C. Clarke



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The Correlation Between a Pencil and a Cassette Tape

Technology never ceases to amaze me.  I realize I’ve written on this topic before, but technology has take over our lives to a point that we don’t know how to function without it.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “Google to the rescue.”  With a cellphone, I instantly have the world at my fingertips.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The topic came up during one of my interviews for work, and then again when I got home and I was talking to my husband.  Our children will never know the fear of calling your friend’s house and having their parents answer.  When I was growing up, it was always a game trying to call at a late hour.  You had to stage the phone call before hand so both of you had the phone in hand and could answer it before it fully rang and your parents were awakened to some hoodlum calling at all hours of the night and you were grounded.

Anyone remember looking at an actual paper map?  In fact, when I was working in the mortgage industry, the president of the department asked if I had one for him to look at and I had to try my hardest from laughing.  Map collectors be advised that what you hold may one day be a treasured relic of the past.  Today, we have cellphones.

My children will never understand what it’s like to rewind a VHS tape, or fully grasp the concept of the time spent at the library to complete a research paper.  They seem like little things, but at the end of the day it is life changing.

One of my teachers in high school was Mrs. Peters.  She taught Pre-Cal, and never let us use calculators unless it was necessary.  She always said “no calcu-cheaters.”  Technology makes things so much easier, but we are wasting our time if someone doesn’t fully understand the intent behind it.  The point of a research paper is to fully understand the topic you’re writing about.  It’s not to google a topic, and then Ctrl F to find the cue words to reword sentences to put in your paper.  If you don’t understand the concept of multiplication then your calculator is useless. Thank you Mrs. Peters, I understand.

Thanks to technology, not only do I have a remote that I do not even have to point at the TV to change it, but I can speak to the XBox and it will do as I say, within reason.  OK, it doesn’t really like to listen to me and then I end up shouting at it, but that’s not the point.  I no longer have to lift a finger.

With technology, we also open up our lives to everyone who wants in.  Our privacy is deteriorating piece by piece.  On some phones, it will tell you whether or not the other person has read the text message you sent.  I’m a fairly private person.  Sometimes, I just do not want to respond.  I don’t mean it rudely, if I don’t answer I just don’t want to talk or respond.

What was once nothing interesting, becomes a Facebook post of “Bob is eating a hamburger.”  While it may seem harmless, the world now knows you are eating, and if you say where you are, they may know you’re not home too.

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What’s Up Stranger

As I’m driving one day, a car turns into our neighborhood and waves at me.  I’m new in town, so clearly, I do not know him.  Should I wave back?  Why would he wave at me?  From my studies in college on communication and human interaction, I can conclude that this is not an introduction, nor a conversation starter.  How inappropriate when driving since clearly verbal communication is out of the question.  I proceed to drive on, but his gesture is still on my mind.  So as I’m pulling in to the office, I find myself raise my hand in an acknowledgement type fashion; somewhat stating the fact that I’m here, I’m supposed to be here, and that I noticed they were here too.  Oh no.  It’s contagious.  I now wave at people and I have no idea who they are.

Throughout the rest of the day, I wondered how this small and kind expression had allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone as an introvert, and grant me the control that I so often crave and lack.  “The wave”, as I call it, is very commanding.  It asks so many questions, demands answers, and yet requires so little as a movement that vocalization is neither needed nor warranted.  I can somewhat compare it to the hand motion so popularly created by Star Wars.  Darth Vader motions his hand in a semi-circle or rainbow pattern to command the doors to open.  I know several people, including my husband, that use this signal to coax the automatic doors at Wal-Mart open to assert their dominance.  However, I feel there is more to “the wave” than just using the force to get your way.

Coming from the city, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen “the wave” used in small town culture.  There are so many meanings that go along with “the wave” that one must be in the situation to truly gain the knowledge of what the person might mean.  It could simply be a greeting between one party and another.  “The wave” could ask the question of what someone is up to, or what they are doing.  The key to this one is in the response.  If the other party does not respond, it could be meant out of rudeness, or the possibility that this person does not belong.  Another key would be if you know the other person you are waving at.  No prior knowledge of the other person clearly dictates that the wave is meant as an introduction or the demanding question of what the other person’s purpose at this location is.

Think about it like this.  If you wave at someone who you do not know, and they do not wave back, wouldn’t you wonder what they are up to?  I acknowledged that you are here, so have some respect and acknowledge me too.  Otherwise, be considered an enemy of the state.

In Texas, “the wave” is often a gesture such as holding open a door.  It’s out of a courtesy to another vehicle, such as I see you were here first, please go ahead.  Someone a long time ago, when I was a child, told me she waved at everyone she passed because she didn’t want to seem rude if she knew the person and did not at least say hi.

I also find it intriguing that as an introvert, you can not hide from the brief social interaction of “the wave”.  When walking down the street, an introvert might be tempted to look down as they walk or take out their cell phone as to avoid uncomfortable eye contact or confrontation.  When driving, these responses seem dangerous and absurd.

Now that you are educated in “the wave”, I expect you will go out and try it on your own.  See what kind of responses you get, and what questions you ask.  I have to go find that guy from a few days ago and make sure he gets the wave he deserves.