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  • What I really need is to get clear about what
    I must do, not what I must know, except insofar
    as knowledge must precede every act. What
    matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really
    is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is
    to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the
    idea for which I am willing to live and die.

    Soren Kirkegaard

    Ah, Soren! How truly you speak, and how increasingly hard it is these days to get clear about anything!

    A hundred years hence, our time may be known as the Age of Frenzy.

    Synonyms: madness, insanity, lunacy, aberration; rage, fury, raving.

    Frenzy, it seems, is the Evil Twin of Digital Delight. We can now, with a few devices, connect with anyone anywhere anytime. Revolutions are being instigated and managed on simple cell phones. Information is doubling at an accelerated pace. Humans have never had more choices, more input, more technologies to know everything about everything anywhere anytime.

    And are we really any better off? Is there more wisdom, more justice, more compassion, more community?

    All of which reminds me of a favorite story:

    Once upon a time, a Sixth Grader was given an assignment in school to write a paper about penguins. He skipped down to the local library, and explained what he needed to the bespectacled librarian, let’s call her Marion. Marion asked him to wait a few minutes, and came back with a stack of books about penguins. Our Sixth Grader thanked her profusely, and said he would be back in about a week, when the paper was due. But imagine Marion’s surprise when he came in the next day to return most of the books. She asked him what was wrong, and he replied tearfully, “Oh, Lady, this is more about penguins than I need to know!”

    I often feel this way these days: There is just more about everything and anything out there than I need to know, or even want to know, and to think that I need to know it and must know it immediately produces a kind of frenzy, then exhaustion, and then stupor.

    Today’s landscape is cluttered with iPhones, IPads, Androids, and more digital communication devices than there is room to list here, and in the midst of it, I find myself slowly backing off. I do not need this much connectivity, this much availability, this much intrusion into my life. Anything that rings, beeps, twitches, hollers, bleeps or blares makes me feel…well, crazy.

    There are only two people authorized to call me on my cell phone, and three authorized to text me, period. At night, I keep the cell phone at the other end of the house, electromagnetic frequencies being only one of the problems involved. It is too easy to want to “check in” to email, or surf web sites. I am regressing back to my life BD (Before Digital) when I used to meditate or read before going to sleep, or go out and just look up at the stars. Those were the days, Soren, those were the days!

    And surprise surprise! I am sleeping better. I really do not need to know about the mysterious pyramid they have found under the ice in northern Alaska, or the latest UFO sightings in Mazatlan, or the fact that there is NO shortage of oil and that “Peak Oil” is a con – the earth is actually producing more oil than we can ever use. I am, let’s face it, an information addict, and have to break some bad habits here.

    Joining a Cistercian monastery would be an ideal cure, but that is not an option open to me at this time.

    Oh, it is all fascinating, but there are times to study, and times to carefully filter my information and times to retreat into silence and seclusion and turn everything off for 24 hours at a time.

    I do not need to subscribe to 50 news feeds. I do not need to scan twenty websites to make sure I do not miss the Revolution as it is happening, or monitor the governmental walls for cracks in the existing tyranny.

    I need to relearn how to sit quietly with my own thoughts, and, as Soren so wisely advises: Get clear about what I must do.

    The backlash has begun, and I am ready to live a less frenzied, more thoughtful, and less stressed a life.

    How about you?

    (Photograph by Alex in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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