Benefits of a positive mental attitude


Feeling extraordinarily weary, I have too much to do (it feels like), too many unanswered emails, too many papers still scattered over my floor, too much dust on the carpet and shelves. Yet the Lingqijing gives me trigraph #12: 'Unfettered journeying'. I am unrestricted in any direction, apparently. It is self-imposed of course, this sense of having too much to do, and everything I have to do haven't I already said I could drop, just like that? Yet I rarely just gather everything up and dump it in the bin. Probably if I ever do I'll ask myself why I didn't do it before. And this week is busy socially, just as you start talking about enjoying solitude everyone wants to go out for a drink, everyone wants to see you. I'm not complaining, probably it will be the means by which I avert my focus from the depth of the layer of dust on my shelves.

Seems I have fallen into many routines again that would benefit from being broken up. Reading blogs, for instance. That is just too time-consuming and only rarely rewards the persistence. What is this strange need to 'keep up' with what someone I don't know is writing, when I have unread books on my shelves by authors who really can write. Why don't I just switch off this droning machine and read well-written books, rather than spending so much time delving down into journals and blogs by people who may or may not be able to write. Don't get me wrong, there is some very good writing on the web, in blogs, but sometimes I start to feel like I have an addiction to sitting in this damn chair staring at that damn screen, and that's all it really is. I am physically incapable of living for long periods out of that position, it is my cyber-asana, the water in my tank, staring fixedly at a computer screen is all that is left of life. So no matter how good the writing is that I find on the web, how magnificent the web is as an invention and information medium affecting all or most of our lives as if there was never a time when it didn't exist, always it comes back to this damn chair that damn screen that damn drone.

So what's that all about? Things take forever on the web. There is no end in sight, it just goes on and on. I never wanted this much information. And there seems to be no way to contribute to it without adopting this physical position, these cramped conditions, month after month like a cosmonaut living in a tincan gazing out into an environment he cannot touch. Aren't we rather harnessing ourselves into this web thing in a major way? But lift-off never comes, it's just more of the same: killing time. I am starting to forget what I used to do. There are no ugly fissures in our heads like in The Matrix, but many of us are nonetheless jacked in. Is this through choice? Seems more like the difficulty of avoiding it.

When my computer used to break down my initial reaction would usually be that I had lost contact with something that was a part of me, yet almost immediately I breathed a sigh of relief and pondered seriously about not getting it fixed or replacing it. Sometimes I would go a whole month without it, and the feeling would be one of escape, free of it at last. But then it would start to become an inconvenience checking my email in cybercaffs once or twice a week and I would bite the bullet and just go out and get another cheap PC, regarding it as little more than having a phone, having already forgotten how I felt stifled by it, how happy I was to be free of it.

And now I have learnt how to repair computers to A+ level so as to avoid the expense of wholesale replacement I can't even dive into ignorance and inaction. The damn thing doesn't work I listen to the error beeps and they speak to me about what's wrong or sometimes I know exactly what's wrong with it and I pull it apart and just fix it like a desert Landrover repair making use of bits and pieces of electronic crap in a cardboard box I have.

When I first got into that stuff I wanted to get a superb PC repair toolkit I'd set my sights on in a catalogue of computer components I used to flick through like a porn mag – 'Wow look at those cables! I'd die for a crimping tool like that.' – I knew all my IRQs (Interrupt Requests) backwards, memorising 'em off a piece of paper on the bus. Lack of money delayed me long enough to avoid getting the supreme electronic hobbyist's kit so I ended up making do with what I had, a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Having no pride in my knowledge because I didn't have the supreme electronic hobbyist's kit in a secret agent briefcase to constantly remind me I was deadly, I ended up just dragging the knowledge out my head when the PC went belly up. Oddly now I'm grateful that poverty held me back from turning my flat into an electronic components cave (I just have enthusiasm for what I'm learning sometimes). Wouldn't want to get too interested, just so long as I could fix the Space Station if I needed to, that'll do me, no need for the overpriced Micro$oft certificate on the wall.

Sometimes a PC is just a tool, or even a source of entertainment, and certainly a means to write, but then you forget how to get up out of your chair, how to switch the machine off. You become more than reliant on it, it becomes your life. Once I said I would never create a website, as it would tie me to the web all the time. I was right.

Other times I quite enjoy creating pages, but nonetheless it always comes back to what I regard as an unwelcome subsuming of life. I'm sure some people have effectively been born into the web, who have never really known much more of a life. Perhaps if I was in a wheelchair the web would be a real lifeline. It's not clearcut this one, which is why I think I chose to explore it, rather than reject it. I do think though that I may be forgetting how to live, buried alive in the web. At some point I will have to address that, but at present I am probably putting it off, continuing to read people on the web for whom the web appears to be a great thing. It's not clearcut at all, but something is happening to our lives because of the web and I'm curious why no-one seems to be addressing it.