Random Sunday Ramblings
November 6th, 2022
It should go without need for mention that there are aspects of day-to-day life which we mostly pass through without really taking in the details, not actively, anyway. Between the nurturing, welcoming nest of home and its familiar arrangements and routines, and the workplace, also familiar and routine, if not quite so nurturing and warm, it can be tragically easy to fall into a kind of bovine, dull-eyed obeisance, a slack-jawed witlessness that seems just dandy until you see, too late, the sharp little knives of misfortune. But it’s so common to miss the warning signs when these things crop up that we tend not to want to blame anybody when they miss them. A scapegoat usually isn’t assigned to these incidents when the damage is minimal, and when it’s great, the blame gets dispersed and shared. Why? Because hello, we all missed the signs, we all fell short, because we all stopped paying close attention to the details.
It’s sometimes referred to as ‘normalcy bias’. We get so comfortable in the autopilot method of living that it all just sort of washes over us without a hitch. Is there a way to avoid this slip into automatic function? Yes, there is, though it takes an uncomfortable effort. Most of us have become too cozy in this automatic pattern, so the start is going to be tremendously difficult. In many Eastern philosophies, the practice is referred to as ‘mindfulness’, which is a very woo-woo way of saying ‘pat attention to the details’. While one may be inclined to be dismissive of this out of hand, come along with me, ever so briefly, and take a single simple step toward it.
Firstly, if you’re reading this on a smartphone, take a moment, shut if off, and really feel the device in your hand. Think about the labor that went into getting the rare minerals and elements that were used in its construction, the many hands that were laid upon it. Consider how many hours of coding went into making this tiny computer in your pocket function. How many lives are linked by this lone unit before you even take ownership of it?
Are you back? Screen back on? Good. Now, imagine you didn’t have this phone. How would you be reading these words? Possibly on a laptop, okay. Each key, each button, machined and assembled by somebody not much different from yourself, folks jut working a job, all with their own hopes and dreams and thoughts. What do the little bumps on the ‘F’ and ‘J’ keys make you think of? Does the smell of coffee tend to accompany your use of the laptop? Home brewed or professional café? Did you tip the barista? The short, dumpy one with the Marge Simpson blue hair and ‘Xe/xim’ nonsense ‘pronouns’ tattooed on the side of her fucking neck?
Getting off track here, but that’s also sort of the point. Details can sidetrack you, and sometimes, we need to be sidetracked, so that we can remember that there’s more to it all than just ‘getting by’ on autopilot. So take a breath, locate the details, and remember, don’t get too comfortable, or you’ll miss the signs of impending disaster, like the café manager did when she hired the blue hair over there, or like I missed when she decided I needed to be cancelled for pointing out that I personally think the whole pronoun thing has gotten a little out of control.