24 July 2010

Irrelevancy in the New World Order

Recently, it was suggested to me that perhaps a 'sans serif' font may be better for certain types of correspondence.  The implication was that, in certain fields of endeavor, suspicions will be aroused by a slight whiff of creativity.


My inward response was a mental yawn and a 'Screw you', albeit with little malice.  I had the same feeling as the time I was told by a job recruiter that having too great a breadth of experience made it harder to get hired.  I didn't feel as pissed off this time.  Tired, yes.

By a chance encounter on the internet tonight, I was reduced to tears at the sight of prayer flags flapping in the wind, up on what appeared to be a mountain.  These flags appeared in a video accompanied by a Buddhist prayer set to music. I couldn't tell you the translation in English, because I do not know it.  I can tell you that when I saw those flags, they were so beautiful and calming that I immediately relaxed.  It was this relaxation that made me weep, I suppose, from joy and peace and beauty.  

In turn, I meditated on the current state of my place in the universe.  I considered all that I am, all that I want to be, all the things that interest me and bring me joy.  At this point, I realized that I am flirting with irrelevancy.

In an age of 'blobitecture' buildings of high-tech glass and polymers, I want to build stone cathedrals.  I yearn for a typewriter, and maybe even a ditto machine.  The global appetite for flash and dazzle, for shiny things that curse or explode: this I do not feel in my belly. LeBron and Lindsay, I wish them well, but I won't lose sleep over not knowing the latest ego-born debacle, nor will I care.

I'm not wired for snark or trash, but I do know it sells.  Some who know me may think I am a hard-hearted man, but I lack a true killer instinct. Alas it seems the world is more interested in giving money to thuggery and mayhem, and I have no desire to be a gangsta.

Technology has given me access to things and people I may not have otherwise experienced, this is true.  I treasure much of what I have found and many whom I have met in this way.  There is a lot that leaves me cold, however, and wondering just what it is I am expected to do to survive in this culture of competition.  I most likely may always be behind the curve of the latest gadget, the latest app, the slickest new media platform.  I try sometimes to be as interested as societal pressure seems to demand of me...but I struggle to keep focus.  The amount of energy expended to be the loudest, biggest, brashest (and therefore the most relevant and profitable) astounds me.  This expenditure has an unnerving tendency to reduce people to sound bites, becoming parodies of themselves in a bizarre effort to be 'winners' who drown out the reflective quiet that might actually bring peace of mind.

I don't know how to feel, exactly, in this new world order: it wants fluency in programming language and rapid-prototyping; I want to illuminate manuscripts and be a blacksmith.  

The issue as I see it:  become relevant or fade away.  If I can create the digital equivalent of the Book of Kells and a horseshoe, perhaps relevancy won't be far behind.  Fading away, well, the thought of it makes me weary.

It makes me want to sit on a mountaintop, watching the flags, praying until the stars go out.


  1. I have Tibetan prayer flags hanging from my front porch. They are very calming.

  2. noooo you don't fade away if you're not relevant! just online, really...but how much does that matter in comparison to our real lives! just thoughts

  3. I loved this. I've felt some of this, myself.

    The world changes so quickly, but i think more and more people are looking for a way to slow things down just a bit. Society seems to exist on a pendulum...sometimes we are at one extreme or another, true. But things have a way of coming back to the middle...

  4. One of my greatest pleasures as a young lad was watching the breezes blow across the white sheets my mother had clipped to the clothes line in our backyard. The billowing white sheets, the blue skies with wispy white clouds scudding by always put me at peace regardless of what else was going on in my life. The Buddhists must have known this too.

  5. The world can be a noisy and competitive place. Thank you for this lovely post. Your thoughts made me understand that being irrelevant, and being happy with that is a good place to be. To be free of the ails of the ego, and content with simplicity and quiet would be a wonderful thing. I think I will join you on that mountain top :)

  6. You know, it's a trick to be in this world, when you often feel like you're not of this world.
    Great, great post.

  7. Strange for me.....this new life I've stumbled upon. I've been thinking of writing on invisibility. From executive director to...? Yet, it is in the stillness...without recognition or compliment or achievement....that I'm learning to just...be.

    Some day I will be totally alone. In a cabin in the woods. Wake with the birds...cup of tea, poached egg and a bit of toast. Simple, but not irrelevant my friend.

    Do you see the lives you touch?

  8. I loved what you've written here. I feel the same way, so often. But I'm not in a place where the Buddhist prayer flags are working for me yet. Not yet.

  9. "There is a lot that leaves me cold, however, and wondering just what it is I am expected to do to survive in this culture of competition." - How I empathise with this...

    You've summed up the way a lot of the pre-internet-boom generation feel about things. There are some of my peers who've taken to technology in a big way the rest of us, who still love the smell of freshly printed paper are still thinking these things. We do stand the risk of being called archaic... but I don't care really!

  10. Strange the way that something like the video clip of those flags can lead to such profound feelings.

    I like your new blog banner too. Very nice.

    At the risk of being considered a self promoter, I'm inviting you to pop by to browse through a few wedding pics, if you're so inclined. It's just that I love photos. And I love Cristy. And it was the happiest moment of my life. Not even kidding. And I'm nearly 50 years old.

    There's a picture of my mom crying. She remembers when I was sleepwalking through my life. I barely remember it. I'm just glad I woke up.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...