POSTCARD#94: Chiang Mai: I’ve been without my computer for about two weeks now. When I tell people this they’re shocked; but how are you able to… I mean, survive without the internet? This is it exactly, no words to describe it; grief, loss, mourning. It’s like somebody died and the world just moves on regardless. The empty space in the middle of the desk where the computer used to be is gradually becoming a convenient place to put things; a cup of coffee, a book, odds and ends – it’s returning to the original ‘desktop’ state (no metaphor intended). I write with a pen on lined paper in an actual ‘notebook’. Back to the basics… oil lamps and candles, I want to live in a cottage in the forest, grow vegetables, chop wood. But instead of that I’m in Chiang Mai City and have convinced myself that walking two miles every day (there and back) to a nice Internet cafe is good exercise.
Heavy urban traffic, often no pavement at all and obstructions like a temporary structure, fried chicken vendor/street food cooking place set up in the pedestrian area – getting the customers’ attention – I have to negotiate with the environment to get through. Cooking smells and traffic hazards, locked-in loving-kindness in conscious mind is necessary. Mindfulness is necessary in order to not be flattened by a passing cement truck. This is the developing world, Asian cultural behaviour just allows it to happen, everything in close proximity to everything else. Take a photo of the hundreds of cables slung between poles I think are phone lines. Connectedness, the true meaning of the term, extended family; people have to have contact with each other all the time. There’s no such thing as overcrowding, it has always, always been like this.
In pre-modern times perception was more associated with the narrative, the story by-word-of-mouth about how it all came to be like this. Now it’s a different kind of reality, a reality without a myth – or a myth that evolved over time to include the social order mechanism, television, and now it disincludes the Godman, the DIY awakening factor – don’t be too concerned about that folks, the Centre of Worship is doing it on your behalf. Not so, here in Asia, that uneasy feeling in the core of my being cannot be filled with some kind of truly invasive commercial product. It’s not a ‘hunger’ aroused by created opportunities we are encouraged to keep seeking. It’s a received knowing that extends through all and everything, a kind of interconnectedness that’s always there, an awareness of the uncountable cells in an organism and multiple organisms within organisms – all of it.
Out of the street and into the cool interior of the Internet cafe. Nice people say hello as I find my place. Log in and download the text file I sent from my phone earlier in the day. Having no computer at home means I have to write my posts using the phone keyboard one-fingeredly and awkward, but learning how to develop skills in defeating the spellchecker that goes around changing all the words unasked-for. Something interesting arises in the engagement with it; having to invent solutions to problems I’m not immediately familiar with. Intuitive reaching must be something I have learned through living with local people in Asian countries for more than thirty years; trying to understand the world as seen through their eyes.
An aloneness, maybe… it motivates this reaching out. ‘The internet is an extended sense organ’, all known bloggers in the world scattered around in their geographical locations, but really all contained in conscious awareness – we couldn’t be anywhere else! I can’t see you, or hear you. I can’t touch you and will never ‘meet’ you in the normal sense of the word, I just know you’re there, or here inside me, or where we all are… curious how it’s the awareness of loving-kindness that activates it.
‘… Not a single particle out “there” exists with real properties until it’s observed… reality is a process that involves consciousness.’ [Robert Lanza]