FROM INNER SPACE TO OUTER SPACE
When I was four years old I learned that if I limped, my grandfather would reach me into his arms, maybe aware, maybe not, that my perfectly capable legs grew lame only upon his return home from work. Of course, it’s only now that I recognize my conceived disability as the clarion call of childhood survival; an unwitting belief that the very thing needed to soothe a 4:30 limp, might also be salve for a pain I didn’t yet understand.
This was how I learned – from seeds of choice that insisted I examine their credibility’s and failings. This is how I still learn, though my limp has evolved. These decades later, as I witness my children’s necessary dependence on compulsory, gigabyte gadgets, I believe the languorous journey to self is in threat of becoming extinct.
I’m on the tail end of a generation that played 8 tracks, and on the stratosphere of one that knows how to navigate an iPhone without consulting a manual. I’m dizzied by technology’s race to be better and faster while figuring smaller and thinner. I turned a blind eye to MySpace when Facebook stared me down; just figured the pad of the Shuffle when the iTouch appeared. I’m guilty for wanting to upgrade my laptop, for coveting software that could master my edits. I take terabytes for granted and no longer marvel at sci-fi mediums that upload and download by simply pressing a one-inch key. I can’t help but wonder who I would be had I access to a game boy, an iPod, a cell phone, a Wii? Would I have become someone different than who I am now, my current self aborted in the glow of an LED screen? Would I have become less esoteric, and so more productive, more marketable, more certain in my economic survival? Would I have known, every day at 4:30, my Grandfather’s embrace?
I’m thankful to be in the wake, and not the crest, of technology’s force and all that it offers and deadens. The etymology of my emotional and creative contribution is based not from the failings that caused my limp, but the interpretive ways and means that cure it to this day. And so I can’t help but wonder what will become of my children’s children, their thoughts, their expressions, their individual contributions if never allowed to engage in their emotional adolescence, to paddle their way from A to Z-Drive.
I can’t help but wonder if racing towards the future could somehow disable their ability to reflect the past; to remember the ways that I held them, and all the reasons they learned to let go. I believe that who they might become could perish in the race to get there before anyone else — that if allowed to mine their innermost spaces, they would stand a much greater chance of recognizing who they are when they get there.