These past few days have made me realise how dependent we are on technology. Not only dependent, but more that they are a distraction. It distracts us from ourselves. A few days ago, I came home to find that my Internet, TV cable and home phone were disconnected. I called the cable/phone/internet provider and they said my account was in order and that the problem was on my end. No one could come fix it until Friday afternoon. I didn’t want to take time off work to sit at home waiting for someone to arrive, and my husband and I had plans to go away camping on the weekend. So, for Thursday and Friday night, we found other ways to “entertain” ourselves. I went for walks with the pug, meditated and read books. Mostly after work, my time is caught up with what’s on TV. It’s a distraction. But, when the phone, Internet and TV are disconnected, you realise how much more quiet things can be. You then realise it’s not as necessary as you thought they were. I became thankful that I still had electricity and that my cell phone was working in case of an emergency.
With the TV, Internet connection and home phone not working, it was nice to know we were going away to go camping that weekend. Camping for us is a break from routine, and for living in the present moment. You don’t have to be anywhere else, and the day-to-day problems of work and city life don’t mean anything. As long as you have shelter, water, fire and food, what else is needed? Anything else is just luxury.
To conclude about the cable “mystery”, it turns out someone in our apartment building was stealing our cable connection and it looks like there are a few apartments stealing cable too. It’s upsetting to think that someone was stealing our service that we are paying for, which brings attention to the first precept, “do not steal.” It frustrates me when I think of it, but my anger won’t do any good. It won’t change what has happened. The situation has been fixed, so is there really anything to be mad about anymore?
I had some good times while I didn’t have cable, Internet or a home phone, which allowed me to “disconnect” from the noise and unnecessary distractions. When you don’t have distractions, you can turn your attention inside. Many of us try to escape from what’s going on inside us, and seek distractions from friends, TV, Internet, etc. Sometimes the distractions are just that… distractions, and as much as we intend to get things done, we get distracted and lose track of time in doing things that are unnecessary.
Distractions take away from our goal. The meaning of our existence is to be happy, and distractions achieve that but they are only temporary. That’s why we need many, many distractions day after day to keep us happy.
Happiness is a state of mind, unaffected by good or bad, more or less. We should be happy when our needs are met, and content with our necessities. Anything else is just luxury, and as nice as they are, is not true happiness. If you don’t have any distractions, would you still be happy with nothing?