Unification News for June 2003

Meditation - My Computer: My Donkey: My Challenge

Lloyd Howell
June 2003

Recently I took on the dreaded challenge of attempting to install a high-speed internet connection for our family computer. For some this may sound absurdly overstated but not if you know me. Yes, I admit I am some kind of dinosaur; a creature out of sync with the electronic side of the 'new age'. Thus I use the word 'dreaded' because, more often than not, all endeavors related to computers have led me to some sort of La Brea tar pit -- a sinking, ultimately suffocating experience, of utterly frustrating proportions. It could be simply trying to gain familiarity with a new program or whatever -- anything related to computers has always somehow led me to the tar pits.

I knew that once again I would find myself up to my neck in thick inextricable tar but for self and family I proceeded.

Despite the phone company having sent an installation kit with a CD, supposedly containing instructions for all situations, I had my doubts. The fact that they had also included a phone number to dial for customer help prompted me to think things weren't going to be as straight-forward as they would have me believe.

My 15-year old son, Zachary, was by my side, enthusiastic and unburdened with former memories of tar pits, no doubt dreaming of surfing the big ones on the net. Actually it was his anxiousness to get connected that helped me make the initial move.

However it wasn't long before we were stuck. If it wasn't one thing it was another. Still we trudged forward making several calls to the help line. But the help line had its own set of problems. For one it was hard to get someone who was comprehensible! I didn't doubt that these people were computer gurus who could bring me to a state of high-tech nirvana but their thick foreign accents, Indian and Chinese, added one more wrinkle to the equation. When we finally did get one who spoke clear English, after leading us down a primrose path, he put us on eternal hold and, although having our phone number, never called us back when we were somehow disconnected. We made more calls, each one requiring us to go through a phone tree of recorded questions, but we finally reached an impasse when one of the gurus declared that the needed USB software was not to be found on our computer and that an 'ethernet' card would need to be purchased. I was not convinced, too much bungling had taken place and after all we did have a USB port on our computer. However there was little I could do but to defer to the lofty decree.

By then, like some unsuspecting sloth, I had stepped too far off solid ground. In front of my son Zachary I had harshly cursed the false prophets and gurus who had led us into our present quagmire. Part of me was ashamed that my son had to witness his father so easily falling into such a pathetic state while another part of me was still cursing the phone company. Deprived of vitality I sank into a state of exhaustion and slowly the tar rose over my head.

The next morning I awoke and decided that a 'fast' would be in order. In that manner I would 'indemnify' my unfatherly example. When Zachary got up I apologized that his ears had to hear my foul words and that his eyes had to see my poor example of how to deal with obstacles. [I mentioned my fast to him.] As I talked with Zach it occurred to me that no matter what age I were to live in I would have the same problem. Heck, even if I were in a time without computers and cars, say a time when one might use a packhorse or donkey then I would still have had the same problem:

There would come a moment when that ole donkey, for whatever reason, would refuse to go forward. You could try food; you could try beating the donkey with a stick and cursing at it. Or perhaps the ole wagon would get stuck in a rut; no fault of mine and no fault of the donkey. But for some reason, comprehensible or not, we are bound to come across those moments when despite our best efforts the desired forward progress does not come to be. Such is life. Stalemates and impasses occur; there is always a donkey whose inner workings will baffle the mind of man, threatening the tranquillity of his soul; and that is a good thing, a much-needed challenge. Thank you God, for how, without a donkey, could I become like You?

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