Thursday, May 1, 2014

non-attachment: technology

I think that using a computer should be viewed like renting a place and living out of a suitcase; anytime, you might just have to pack up and leave.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve encountered several major system breakdowns, where I had to rescue my data (whatever I could get) and then move to a completely new operating system. There, I would plant down and try to get comfortable all over again. New formats, new interfaces, new glitches and annoying features — but it’s home. At least until the next crisis. The move is always a big production.

Maybe my difficulty with migrating each time is the fact that I treat my computer like it’s a real, permanent home for the mind, and various aspects of life. I really settle into the technology, using it as a storehouse for ideas (virtual Post-its and Word documents), a window into my own experiences (eg. Picasa albums), a key source of entertainment (songs and online reading) and heart-to-heart communication.

But do I want to keep using (only) computers this way? No. It’s too dependent, fickle. Kind of like depending on ecologically unsustainable conveniences (imported plastic goods, gasoline for driving, pesticides for fruits & vegetables):

mindlessly, you run on them —

until they run out on you

And when they do, you’ve been so wholly dependent that you have no alternatives, no way to keep functioning. Such a good wake-up call for me to put computers in their own place -- to still use them for creating and sharing work documents, for accessing email/remote communication...


If I have ideas, doodle them out on napkins and notebooks; bounce them off other people in conversation. If I have experiences, document them if I can, but most of all, breathe in each smell, sight, emotion, impression, and burn them into my mind, cherishing quality images over hefty photo albums. If I want entertainment, go and spend time with people, sing a song, write a random story, make a smoothie or gift for someone.

They say that for most of his life, Gandhi lived out of a suitcase. The underlying mentality (though perhaps not the feasibility) of this is non-attachment, that is, appreciating but not being too rooted in an environment that constantly shifts.

With non-attachment, anything -- good things, bad things, happy things, difficult things -- can be encountered as important, yet transient visitors.


  1. Beautiful! It's such a liberating feeling to free yourself from the computer, cell phone, etc. I hear every word you write :) hear, hear sister! :)

    Your blog is so lovely. Thanks for sharing such wisdom and beauty!

  2. Love this, I have such a hard time balancing depending on technology as a tool but not being completely intertwined with it. I want to be minimalistic and move towards more digital forms but yet, I miss paper, and sometimes it feels better to not always be on something with a screen!

  3. Oh, your words, Karm - they breathed life into me when I didn't know I needed it. Because, gosh, you are so right. So very, very right.