The Thick Plottens!
May 15, 2009 by rtwsenior
(You will need to have read the previous posting for this to even begin to make sense…and then, hopefully, you still won’t have all the answers at the end, since I am purposely “stringing you along” in a guessing game of sorts.)
Previously, I was speaking of the secured wi fi domain running our household computers. We have noticed that a neighbor’s new unsecured wi fi domain is beginning to cause us a few problems in logging on. Some days, it never interferes at all. Other days, our computers are trying to log onto the overlapping domain which for some reason drifts to the top of our cyberlist. On those days, our computers also fall offline without warning. I’m sure that many of you already have had, or will in the future have, similar experiences.
We’re dealing with an invisible substance here. Computing depends upon a way to hook into the internet, and even though that portal is created by tangible objects, the most vital part of the equation is some sort of energy produced by this equipment. It needs electricity to happen, but I don’t think the necessary product coming from routers with blinking green lights is simply your garden variety electricity, but something more refined, some specialized computer-sort of energy, which only establishments equipped with wi fi can generate. And yet, every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a laptop needs that kind of energy. Otherwise, all they have is an expensive word-processing machine.
What would you do if your wi fi domain was wide enough to supply the picnic table in the park near your house with a signal? What if you had no idea that this was so, but you occasionally noticed someone sitting at that table with their portable computer? Even if they were using your signal, would it really matter, as long as they weren’t hacking into your computers or doing something illegal in your name?
(Forgive me if the analogy breaks down because of my flamboyant and freely-admitted ignorance of computer-speak. I can see a problem with this argument if their computer might first need to be initialized with numbers only you can provide in order to use your domain. But, I’m going on hearsay about earlier days when cars would troll a neighborhood looking for domain bubbles so that a stranger could park within one and log onto the internet, obviously not requiring an identification number.)
What if the person at the picnic table was honest and above board and knocked on your door asking permission to slipstream your signal? As long as you trusted them and felt that there was no risk, wouldn’t you say, “Well sure, podnah! I have plenty. Help yourself” though no one would blame you if you later took measures to reduce the size of your wi fi bubble, knowing that others might not be so aboveboard.
Okay, here’s another analogy. Let’s say you have a vegetable garden that produces more than your family can ever eat. This hits home because my dear snowbird neighbors, Walt and Dottie, have just departed for the season and left me to water their three tomato plants. They always leave while the tomatoes are small and green but the crop is usually huge. Their friends come to pick some but the remainder is still more than we can eat. What if someone else started helping themselves to the surplus? I wouldn’t mind at all, even if I didn’t know that they were doing it. But, if they asked, they’d also get the above answer.
How about a neighbor who waters his garden with your hose? (No, my neighbors don’t do that.) The point is, that this is going to cost you something. If they sneak around, they are stealing from you but if they asked you for permission, you might even agree, depending upon their reasons and whether their use was going to be excessive.
What if you felt victimized in a reverse situation? Let’s say that their sprinklers are sending water into your nearby screened patio enclosure and soaking your furniture….or your floor….or you. Depending upon your mood and previous relationship with these neighbors, might you even feel attacked? What if you learned that they had a reason for doing this, however bizarre it might sound to you?
Maybe the intrusion is even more intangible than water. What if it’s noise: a loud TV or stereo, barking dogs, screaming kids? How would you protect yourself against this?
(By now, please understand that we have left the arena of examples from my own life and I’m just thinking up all sorts of everyday situations that some of us might easily encounter, which will be useful when I finally get around to telling you what I’m actually talking about. Thankfully, my life is serene and far from any such problems…although there is a picnic table in the park opposite my front door and my neighbors did leave behind some bountiful tomato plants.)
My point is that there are a myriad and one lifestyle situations that you can never know exist unless you hear about someone else’s unique experience. And, our human nature causes us to flatly deny some of the more far out stories especially if they deal with intangible subjects and stretch the boundaries of anything we ever thought might be possible. The most tempting and comforting set point reaction is to wave everything away if it shocks or scares us and to proclaim that this belongs squarely in the realm of craziness. Slam, Bang goes the door. End of story.
Well, because of a serendipitous and highly-unlikely series of events, a book has fallen into my hands which has educated me about many things that I needed to understand at this particular time in my own spiritual development. It is a book which took much courage to write. It is a book which I would not have opened a few years ago, nor would I have chosen to read it now if it had not planted itself squarely in front of my eyes. But, I’m very glad to have learned the things which it has to teach. Moreover, the courage demonstrated by the author’s candor has inspired me to open up a bit about things which I know and have not previously been willing to share.
So yes, this is a topic much heavier and more important than tomato plants, wi fi, or sprinkler systems. But these ordinary and mundane examples from daily life actually each provide a harmless and prejudice-free common experience which could be seen as parallels to a much more delicate and poorly-understood human condition.
Even these examples may be far, far from the personal experience of some people, particularly those who are islands unto themselves with very little overlap into the lives of others. Even those folks might not deny that such daily life events could well happen to somebody else and they will probably feel no need to split hairs about such a discussion. But, let things wander out of the ordinary and the same sheltered ones might mount a great debate as to the impossibility of such and such a thing, mainly because they have never heard of this, nor experienced the complications that it can bring. To them I say: “Oh, go water your tomatoes!”
I don’t yet know if I have the skill to do justice to this subject. And certainly, the ultimate topic, which I have not yet revealed, isn’t actually a central one to my own inner life; though it’s a very frequent peripheral factor. Because of this mystery book, I now have some new tools at my disposal: some new knowledge about which I was completely ignorant, as well as some old knowledge which I did have but saw from my own point of view; plus some good puzzle pieces to apply to my personal history and continued growth.
If I could learn so much from another person’s experience and willingness to share, then surely a few of you will benefit from my own candor. And so it goes. Stay tuned.