On a trip to Mobile, Alabama, my mom and I would get lost. On purpose. My sister had to be there for work and she brought us along to keep her company when she wasn't attending thunderously boring meetings. Mom and I dropped her off at her job's Mobile office and we'd take off to parts unknown. Well, not unknown. We wanted to see the beautiful ante bellum mansions and add some of them to our fantasy bucket list. We located the grandest one, which was closed for repairs, and drove around that quarter aimlessly but purposefully. That is, when we spotted a lovely street we turned into it and cruised the gorgeous architecture.
When we'd had enough I clicked on our hotel in my GPS app and we drove back. We were lost but now we were found. Time for lunch? Another app showed a Jamaican restaurant with great reviews. Mom never had Jamaican food. She loved it. This delightful mother and son touring was possible thanks to the much maligned, addictive, anti-social, making-us-all-dumb screen of my digital device.
My friend Dave and I meet for lunch at a Thai restaurant once a week. His work as a counsellor is light, but he feels duty bound to be always on call. Also to his family. So his iPhone is on the table. So is mine. Our conversation is lively, sometimes deeply personal. Neither one of us feels constrained by the rectangular devices next to his pork with ginger or my green papaya salad. They are just part of our lives.
When my younger children were teens I soon learned that their generation did not phone, they texted. So when I woke up in the middle of the night and one or both weren't home, I texted them inquiring of their whereabouts and their ETA. They didn't lose face with their peers when the old man was checking on them. All of them used to reading and sending texts, this could easily be from anyone. (The driving thing is a whole other matter.) And I could go back to sleep.
Our ubiquitous digital devices are blamed for many ills. I'm glad they exist. For one, I'm writing on one right now and writing is what I do. I know many writers are disciplined individuals who sit at their desks for a prescribed amount of time at a prescribed time. I tried that. It didn't work for me. I have to do it when, I want to say the spirit moves me or the Muse calls but that sounds pretentious. Let's say I do it when I get an itch I have to scratch. Like right now. On my iPad
The discipline of writing is not for me. Maybe because I associate "discipline" with academic endeavors (the horror!), bad shit that was drummed into my head at Catholic school (beyond horror) or weird-ass sexual hi jinks (no horror, but no thrill either). My attempts at disciplined writing, prompted by some internalized misconceptions, only yielded drivel. You might say, hypocrite lecteur, that this you are reading is drivel. Frankly my dear I don't give a digital damn.