Thursday, May 3, 2007

Modern Conveniences

It was the morning rush-hour and I was negotiating a multi-lane left turn when the piercing dah, dit, dit, dit alarm jolted me. Annoyed, I glanced over at my handbag sitting on the passenger seat, realizing that it was my new Palm/Blackberry wannabe telling me to be on my way to an appointment. I was rounding the turn, so there was no way that I could turn it off. It chirped again soon after I was on the straightaway.

"I know, I know," I told it impatiently. Still, it chirped on. "That's where I'm going now." I ground my teeth, bidding the image of my husband cheerfully programming in the different alarm sounds. "He meant well, really, he meant well." I said to myself trying to overcome a rising resentment.

Dah, dit, dit, dit answered my Palm. I growled feeling the urgency of changing lanes in a quarter of a mile or miss my exit and the need to quiet that thing which was supposed to be a help but was now adding to my road rage.

"Stop it," I yelled, and at that instant realized the utter absurdity of a grown woman trying to argue with a dumb Palm. I burst out laughing, I'm sure the people in the cars next to me must have thought me mad. Once safe in the parking lot of my destination, I pulled out the shiny Palm and turned off the alarm.

"Really, you are more trouble than you're worth," I said to it. What was I doing talking to inanimate objects that were meant to be aids to my existence? I sighed thinking of how I used to never have to write anything down, that I could remember things with clarity and ease. In school, I never took notes because of a near-photographic memory. It drove everyone crazy that I could remember conversations word-for-word, and that I could quote pages and pages of books verbatim. But each subsequent child and their myriad activities, on top of all my obligations wore out my ability and I increasingly had to rely on Post-it notes. Where would I be without Post-it notes?

But progress, you know, has a way of infiltrating your life, and early on in the life of PDAs, I sported one, if just for the convenience of having an alarm to remind me of my next duty. Each time it would ring, the children would pipe up and say, "Your purse is talking to you, Mama."

And then there were the upgrades, oh, the latest bells and whistle, how can you do without them? Finally, I decided to return to my Post-its and a planner. It was lovely to not have a constant chirping companion that intruded in the most inconvenient times to remind me not to be late.

But all that ended, when a box arrived and there it was....the latest. I can check my emails with it, make phone calls, organize my shopping list, keep abreast of the latest news. Ah, what's not to like? Spam-on-the-go served anytime, anywhere.

I'm sure I'll find a way to like it. But for now, it's one more thing to remind me of my rootedness in time, the tyranny of the urgent pressing upon me. How much I need daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration to remind me of the country to which I belong, the time-outside-time that creates room for me to breathe in the Divine, to say, with the choirs of angels and archangels, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth." Here am I, mortal that I am, direct me, use me for your greater glory this day.

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