There was a time before machines and applications. There was a time when I was much younger with the entire world on my mind. I was armed with nothing else but a deck of playing cards and a game of solitaire. I learned this game from when I was sick and hospitalized. I have no real memories from this time. I was very young and the name of whatever sickness I had was more of an adult word than something an 8 year-old would understand.
I have pictures or perhaps flashes of me in a hospital room. I sickly and tired and wondering if this was my fault or if “God” was mad at me for something.
As a matter of fact, I tried to make a few deals with God. I tried bargaining but the needles kept coming. And man, did they hurt!
Anyway, this is when I learned how to play solitaire. I was able to distract myself—or better yet, I was able to lose myself in the different color codes of red and black and how to organize the cards.
It is said that no one knows the hour or the day. Not man or woman or anyone who identifies as part of this race we call human will know when the ride stops—even still, there is no preparation for the end nor is there a preparation for the beginning. Life is a series of stop-and-go cycles.
I have to say this now before I live another minute. A man’s life is meant for something. And I say this because this is who and how I identify myself. I am a man—or at least I hope to be someday when I grow up.
I do not think the machines have done well for us. I think that technology has overgrown to an insurmountable size. In fact, even now as my fingers type upon keys on a computer keyboard, I am sending this note through a bunch of series and circuits to come out on the other side. It’s amazing. I agree.
I remember we thought it was amazing to have our first color television. I remember when we thought it was amazing to have our first push-button telephone. And now in the new millennium, hardly anyone has a home phone. Hardly anyone has a tape player or a record player or even a CD player because all of them are old, obsolete and antiquated. We thought it was amazing to have cable or a VCR and wow, look at all of these new channels on television—of course, as kids, we tried to hijack some of the adult shows or watch the more erotic cinema. This seldom worked the way we wanted but hey, it wasn’t for the lack of trying.
I have heard about some of the creators of new technology. I have heard of families who live out in Silicon Valley and how they warn their own children to stay away from the new technology. I see this as interesting.
The creators have created this and it is they who are about to release it—and yet, it is also they who tell their kids to stay away, open a book, or go outside, play or find a distraction someplace else. I have been told that these so-called creators of genius have reverted back to somewhat of a Luddite system. This refers to a time before machines took over.
The Luddites were British textile workers who were against the new mechanical systems that took away their livelihood. From what I am to understand, this dates back to the early 19th Century. They were the first true labor force to protest the upcoming swarm of machines run by unskilled laborers that took away the craft of people who worked for a living.
And here they are, the new generation; all of them are attached to a phone or some kind of technical apparatus. It’s amazing to me. Is it too late? Have we missed it?
Have we missed the chance to tell them “Open a book,” or “Go outside and play.”
Maybe I am blessed to be older now. I think I am.
I know that I am blessed to have lived. I am blessed to have walked outside in my youth. I am blessed to have dug my toes in the sand on both the East Coast and the West. I am blessed to say that I have lived and touched and twirled the soil around in my hands. I have seen and hurt and won and lost. I saw the ball drop in the middle of Times Square, New York City.
All I know of my youth is what I recall, which is little sometimes. I know that without pictures for posterity, the future might not know about the past, which is why I write to you. I want my voice to mean something.
I want my life to mean something.
I want to leave something behind that will leave a stamp upon the earth—which is almost like we did when drawing our names on the wall, back in school, or how we carved our names into a bench at a park somewhere or maybe even in the stalls in a bathroom. We’d put our initials with a silly little poem to follow beneath it.
Now, wait. Let me see . . .
How did it go again?
I think I have it . . .
Beneath my initials was the inscription which in total, I believed it looked something like this:
“B.K. was here and now he’s gone but his name is here to carry on.”
I think there was more too but again, age has taken its share of memory.
But at least I have this. At least i know how to deal a stack of cards and play a game without the input of something technical.
There comes a time when we realize that we don’t need as much as we do. There comes a time when we choose to scale back. And I think about this.
I think about the feel of sitting at a desk in a room where all is quiet. No one else is around. It’s just me and my thoughts or the heavy burdens, all of which can become hashed out by a card game that helped me replace thought with action.
I think about the way the cards lay out on the table—and you can always start over if you lose. Besides, it’s not losing. It’s just a way to transfer energy. I learned this when I was sick and small and feverish. I can remember looking out the window of the hospital room. I wished I was someone else or anyone else in this world.
I don’t think technology has helped us as much as it seems. The symptoms are still the same. I’m not sick anymore. At least, not physically. However, there are times when the burdens are heavy. The cure still works. Not much has changed when it comes to problems of the heart. Perhaps the problems have mutated or maybe they’ve just advanced to a different level. Still, there is something about a quiet game of Solitaire.
It scales back the technology—so we can unwind . . .
and think for ourselves.