Maybe I think too much

There’s an article in Sunday’s New York Times talking about the internet like it was a middle Eastern souk–one particularly corrupt–teeming with competing merchants boasting a vast variety of quality and honesty lining streets roamed by an undetermined number of both the helpful and the hurtful.  Another analogy would be the American wild west: farmers, ranchers and land grabbers, miners and claim-jumpers,  card sharps and preachers, some of them perhaps soul sharps, Miss Kindly and Miss Kitty–the full variety of human beings all out there and waiting with a vast variety of motives for me and you.

The article then goes on to describe apps  as those agents of safety and righteousness who stand between us and them, the bold scouts or tour guides–maybe ultimately pimps–who go out into the uncharted and unregulated world of the world and, our shopping lists in hand, carefully select that safe site which most resembles what we believe we want, leaving us securely at home to play Sudoku or read best sellers or order Chinese food from the place we know and trust until they return with the goods.

Guardians to protect us from the world we say we want while insuring we get what we want from it at no risk to ourselves.

Well, yeah.  Who the hell wants to get directions from 76th and Amsterdam to 77 Montrose Street up in Hartford and end up with a virus that takes all the consonants out of everything you’ve ever written on Wordperfect or some guy in the Ukraine knowing stuff about you you wouldn’t even tell yourself?

Trust me, I do understand this.  I just installed Google Chrome as my new browser because that same New York Times (albeit an earlier edition) told me that it was much less likely to be invaded by the bad guys than Firefox–my previous choice–or Internet Explorer–my even earlier choice which I deserted in favor of the at- that-time-safer Firefox.  Thus an afternoon devoted to selecting Google Chrome  Extensions, literally thousands of, yes, apps that I might add onto my computer to make it do more specifically what I want it to do.  With maybe two clicks I could enable myself to get maps, to enlarge the little pictures of themselves people paste on Facebook when they don’t have dogs or infant children, tell the weather or translate or copy an entire page or even know what each Google search entry was really about before clicking on it.  And, yes, I turned down virtually all of the ones I’d selected when I found out that they’d have full access to all the personal information and browsing history I’d posted anywhere on the web.

Omygod, please don’t let them find out my nickname growing up was Dick and that I’ve spent more than an accidental moment looking at naked women, the political views of  the Tea Partiers and, in looking to see if the Students for a Democratic Society still existed, came upon the website for the Society of the Divine Savior–and found it interesting.

Yeah, O.K.,  so there’s some conflict here.  There’s a whole bunch of me that, like most middle class folks, is utterly comfortable playing it safe.  There’s another part of me  though, the one left over from dropping out of Graduate School back in 1965 and then fleeing to NYC to live in what hadn’t yet  become Alphabet City, working as a short order cook in a bar around the corner from my apartment on Avenue B at 11th Street, consuming significant amounts of drugs, spending short periods of time with women who’s names I didn’t know or much care about, and walking home alone at 4:23 in the morning in snowstorms with the stuff in my pocket.

So what’s this got to do with right now?  Part of it has to do with chronology.  There are times when I think,

Hell, I’m getting toward the end of it.  I don’t have to protect anything and, frankly, I don’t have a helluva lot to protect.  Let me just hang out and deal with whatever comes.

The Buddhist thought I’ve been reading and discussing for the last 50 years and practicing for 9 informs me that that attitude isn’t so much a product of age as it is of reality.  In the words of my clients, “It is what it is.”  Whatever…

Recently, especially this past week at home recovering from knee surgery and watching  my body get older has had a significant impact on my thinking.  The truth be told, these thoughts have occurred to me more than once before since I spend my days among the hundred forty or so younger–if not young–folks who’ve given over their lives to drugs and the street.  Like the rest of us, they too play  it safe by sticking with the familiar dangers.

Please God, let this stuff be good and take me away from the horrors I’ve been carrying around since I was a kid.  Let me keep focused on nothing but getting money, copping, getting high  and maybe getting laid once in a while.  I can handle jail.   I  just don’t have it to live sober.

So where does all this leave me now?  I wish I had a neat  and lovely answer, but I don’t.  When I started to write this, I was all ready to brag about my pre-Alzheimer’s boldness, my willingness–no! eagerness–to take chances with what’s left to me.  I was truly ready to make myself sound soo cool.  Then the conflict part came up, but I was still ready to resolve it in true heroic fashion.  Now, closing in on the end of this post, I  find myself out of my image and back in the heart of my soft, mushy humanity.

My home turf nowadays is such a mixture of impulses and habits: an ultimately delightful chaos of mysterious spontaneity on the one hand and the deep-rooted  desire for order and dependability on the other.  What I now realize is that neither will win, and my job is to accept that…to accept it all.  My desire is to accept it with a smile.

Published in: on May 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm  Comments (6)