A Moment to Remind You

This post was supposed to be about ereaders, or more specifically, about my aversion to them. On second thought, aversion is the wrong word. Let’s say I’d intended to discuss the apathy I feel toward portable digital reading mediums. I got this far in my notes:

It’s not that I dislike reading on a screen. For an avid reader, mobile devices pose many benefits: they’re convenient, easy to carry, (arguably) cost effective, well...ehh...lit...? And sometimes, they’re free. In fact, the Google device currently on loan to me from my employers has cost me nothing, monetarily speaking. On the other hand, it’s cost me the weight of a heavy conscious as said Google device is currently collecting dust in a basket of misfit electronics in a sad corner of my apartment. Or I hope it is. I should probably go find out. To the point, it’s not that I dislike e-readers, I just don’t like-like them in the way that I like-like (read: love) the smell and feel of an actual book. For some things in life, there are no substitutions.

That’s all I’m going to write on the topic of e-readers today. It’s an interesting point of discussion — one’s preferred method for absorbing words that transport and preserve truth and meaning (provided the reader has nice taste) — but I find my thoughts entirely too ensnared by a different yet very closely related topic to talk or think about much of anything else. I’m stuck on something that’s decidedly more difficult to articulate but necessary to explore, hence my agitation.

What the FOLK am I talking about, right? I’m talking about the big picture, or the reason we are here. Here on this webpage, that is. It’s too early on a Saturday morning to get so existential. Or not. Now it’s a rainy Sunday and I’m sitting down with the intention of finishing this post by way of talking to myself through a keyboard connected to an illuminated screen, hoping and praying I’ll find something of merit to say. And so it goes.

In the past few weeks, windows of solid “me time” have been few and far between. There’s no kick-in-the-ass chaser to holiday merriment quite like the grueling yet obligatory day-to-day grind. Unless, of course, you’ve found a kickass, soul-sustaining alternative to the desk bound 9-5 of which the rest of us are prisoners. Hold your judgment; I feel both fortunate and appreciative to be gainfully employed. My job affords necessities like rent, food, health insurance, dentists appointments I’ve been meaning to schedule and the privilege of living in this melting pot of opportunity I swore I’d move to when I was six. But herein lies the rub: How you spend your days is how you spend your life. In the US, people spend an average of 7.4 hours per damn day looking at screens. Something at the core of my being says we’re a long ways away from getting this whole life thing just right.

Here’s another scary thought: Every year is a smaller fraction of your life. Think about it. I guess that’s a dramatic way of expressing my sentiments, or in pop culture speak, “feels” on the swift passage of time without employing a four-letter acronym that rhymes with “ROLO” coined by a Canadian rapper/Degrassi alum who likes Ring Dings, Ding Dongs and assorted fruit pie confections, apparently. Again, think about it.

Approximately 24 hours and three weak paragraphs ago, I hinted at a point: namely, the reason we are here. Why am I perched, or rather, hunched over a keyboard while my boyfriend, who has suddenly adopted a southern accent, makes enthusiastic promises about “the best hotcakes (pancakes) you ever did eat” in the room next door? I have no idea. The last place I want to spend these elusive and sacred moments of unscheduled freedom is in front of a computer screen, and yet here I am. And it feels...good?

The first thing I did when I rolled out of bed this morning was regret that PBR I surrendered to before heading home last night (I know, how millennial-meets-Brooklyn of me). The next thing I did when I woke up this morning was pull out my iPhone, go for a brief scroll and almost regret that selfie I posted which captured my hair in an exact replica of The Great Wave of Kanagawa. Finally, I came to and decided to read the note that arrived yesterday via snail mail from my best friend — the one I’ve been saving for a quiet moment when I might lend my full attention to handwritten words with the power to make me feel as though my friend Hope is here laughing with me, or as though I’m transported miles away to some sunny letter writing spot on her quaint campus in Vermont.

Enclosed in the letter was a small envelope that read, “a moment to remind you you’re exactly here and alive.” I lied. I misread the envelope. It in fact very clearly reads “a memento to remind you...” But was my initial interpretation so far from the truth? Isn’t a memento supposed to give you pause — an anchoring moment to exist, if only temporarily, beyond the laws of time and, at once, exactly here in the present? This memento — my moment — consisted of a weathered clipping (from what I like to imagine is an ancient and very important book on astrology) with a most grounding image of circles of latitude and their intersection with the planes of the ecliptic coordinate system, near the navel of this big rock we call Earth. That’s what I think it is, anyway. Remember: I can’t read.

Rather than immediately texting a series of hearts and laugh/cry emojis to my brilliant friend, I decided to honor her message by parking my ass in this desk chair to write. In this moment, I am acutely aware of the heavy, sweet smell of pancakes in the kitchen, and the sound they make as they bubble to a dangerous golden brown on the skillet. In this moment, I feel a sense of satisfaction and peace as I pull these words out of my tortured, muddled brain and into a blog post on this au courant storytelling platform. I also feel a sense of anxiety, as the morning has turned to afternoon and I’ve yet to step outside into the drizzle and savor what’s left of the waning, precious weekend hours.

Another hour later and I remain staring at this screen, belly full o’ pancakes and typing instead of penning my thoughts in hopes that you’ll find them, read them and understand what I’m trying but failing to say. Had I not paused in the process of writing this rambling blog post to open a letter from my friend, I might’ve settled for a closing message that sounds nothing short of trite — something like “be present” or “be here now.” Fortunately, my Polaris of a pen pal said it better with the help of a simple, tangible memento. Call this post “a moment to remind you you’re exactly here and alive.”

Now please follow my lead when I say I’m about to exit this window and then exit my apartment. I have an umbrella by the door and a life that’s not going to live itself while I spend another hour attempting to digitally assert my existence at the mercy of a connected screen. 


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