a world of lost passwords


IMG_3069bPOSTCARD #102: Delhi: I’ve forgotten my password… fearing my papers might be stolen, password discovered and, of course this is how the whole paranoia of Identity Theft unfolds, I dreamed up some devious way of encrypting it then forgot how I did that. Now it’s gone… this elusive quality passwords have, they slip away secretly if you’re not holding on to them or buying into the created anxiety scenario that sells the product; insurance to cover the insurance to cover the unforeseen event; an imagined disaster. Rearrange the furniture of the mind; if you’re a Buddhist, having your identity stolen is no big deal because it’s an assumed identity anyway. There never was an actual ‘self’ in here, anatta, selflessness, and spiritual generosity. I’m pretty sure there’ll come a time when banks don’t offer loans to Buddhists anymore; they don’t meet the criteria, don’t have the credentials; that tenacity of clinging to ‘me’ and ‘mine’ is noticeably absent… Buddhists are not a safe bet, at any time they may close the agreement and happily give everything away. Banks don’t like freedom from suffering; enslavement to sensory input keeps them in business.

So I feel reasonably okay about losing my password, what’s gone is gone. It’s my Thai account and they will fix it up for me – I’ll be there in 2 weeks so I’ll be able to explain the situation; go and see the same bank teller lady I’ve been visiting over the years, who will look up when I come to her desk with my queue number ticket and a recognition comes into her face: You’ve forgotten your password again, right? It did bother me at first; aging, memory loss, an inability to retain passwords, and also that she might think it’s all a made-up story… how could anyone forget their password so often? And the real reason for coming to see her again and again is that I’d like it if we could get to know each other better… we can’t go on meeting like this.

But there’s a sadness in her eyes…. it’s been so long now, years pass between our meetings, I go away, forget my password and come back and see her again, she gives me a new password and we observe each other silently. She looks well, but older. It must be this job she does; working in a bank, selling security for finance that may or may not bring wealth or ruin, manipulating a hypothetical danger… unwholesome livelihood, hovering always on the edge of anxiety. Even now I can see the lock-down procedures starting in my head – falling into the trap of believing it’s real. Let it go, let it go.

It’s a death, it’s gone, my password dwells now in the world of lost passwords where there’s no urgency about who is who or what or which object belongs to who or whom and the things we cling to, the clings we thing to, have no adherence, glue dissolves, unsticks – structures collapse, fall… form and formlessness

“… like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel. Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon, like a carousel that’s turning, running rings around the moon. Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face, and the world is like an apple whirling silently in space – like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.” [The Windmills of Your Mind, 1968]

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Photo: Jiab’s visit to the Southernmost tip of Kerala looking out towards Sri Lanka

26 thoughts on “a world of lost passwords

  1. lol Oh, yeah! As I get older, my passwords appear to be converging into a single trusted form. Dangerous, they tell me, to have all my eggs secured in the one basket… but in reality, what is it that I’m actually protecting?

  2. Nice reflection on the Truth behind identity. And as for the practical challenges of a fading recall ability – something I know well enough – I have found a solution. I have an Excel file containing all my “identity” stuff: passwords, usernames etc. Several of them I rarely use, so I would for sure not recall them at need, especially some of them of the @V;qs&2}ED\a2T( variety. This excel file is then encrypted with Axcrypt (http://www.axantum.com) using an easily password that is also strong enough keep even supercomputers busy for 10000+ centuries. (Test at http://password.social-kaspersky.com). Keep a back up copy of this, remembering to update this back up whenever you make changes, in case your every day medium (pc, laptop, tablet etc.) crashes or gets lost or stolen.

    Problem sorted,

    And you can still, I’m sure, find a plausible reason to go and see the lady at the bank. 🙂

    • Thanks Ben, I’m impressed with your system, and thanks too for this helpful link! I’d need to see if it works with Mac, but one thing I immediately liked was the AXANTUM page about the password generator; creating a nonsense word that’s easy to remember because it’s funny how it makes sense. This newfound ease concerning my difficulty with passwords could make a world of difference to the relationship with the lady at the bank 🙂

  3. I find some humor, forgive me, in the insanity of it all and your portrayal of Buddhists and modern life. I have a list of passwords in a folder in a bookcase near the computer which, of course, a thief could find. I wrote them out for spells of amnesia and for my husband in case I die. It is a joke between us– he who abhors computers except to surf the web. This is the insanity of modern affluent society. Very enjoyable post.

    • Ah well, sometimes it helps to be a bit mad, not taking it too seriously. I like the idea of the folder of passwords kept near the computer – why not? If a thief gets as close to me as that, there’s an abundance of things to worry about, enough to keep me occupied for a lifetime. All the more reason to let it go. Thanks for your reassuring comment.

    • I was thinking the same thing when writing the post; where do lost passwords go/ wrongly addressed emails/ and lost socks? So I created a place: ‘the world of lost passwords’ and that felt satisfactory somehow 🙂

  4. One of the most interesting experiences on my life path was a total identity theft, about 14 years ago. I became a paperless non-person. Had to ‘prove’ my existence from Birth Certificate up… It gave me great insight into the plight of refugees. And of course, vaulted me into the great cosmic question without any foothold: “What am I in the absence of identity?”
    What a gift Tiramit!
    🙂

  5. Great story tiramit with a lot to ponder about. When I change passwords the next time I login I can really get paranoid cause I forgot I changed it. And for what? An email account.. luckily the Buddha taught us the root of this clinging, yet this self is pretty persistent in its resistance 😉

    • Thanks Pieter, doesn’t seem to be any way around it, sometimes, passwords and clinging to an identity. Except that we know it’s a construct… maybe that’s enough to be going on with.

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