I am still adjusting to the necessity of having to deal with yet another fender-bender, a positively tiresome duty and blight upon an otherwise perfectly good weekend in my estimation. I vacillate between despising the woman who rammed me and chastising me for being so preoccupied with what is by any standards an inconsequential event (it is little more than a scuff really). As traumas go, it would for example be thoroughly embarrassing to have to argue for its profundity in a public forum in spite of its grievous private annoyance and exigencies. It further exasperates me that the trivial affair jettisons me into the heady world of psychoanalysis and an examination of the darker meaning of the material world. How preposterous is that as an outcome! It gives new meaning to extrapolation! The particular conclusion at which I arrived some time mid-afternoon today was that I might as well get over this meaningless hump since in the past no amount of mahogany, platinum or mechanical engineering has ever succeeded in doing anything for me other than fulfil a very momentary want; and, more to the point, it is only a matter of time before I am pining to replace the earlier object of adoration with something else more shiny and new. This is a deflating realization, not only for its moral significance but also for the damage it does to the material world generally. After all it represents a collapse of the last possible source of hope unless one is prepared to do something terribly plucky like look deeply inward or very far outward. The recent gush of technological entertainment (Kindle, iPhone and – the latest as of this very weekend – “all-in-one” computers) is thankfully relatively inexpensive. I make a deliberate point of sanctifying these minor indulgences by persuading myself that they accelerate my knowledge of the relentlessly unfolding world of technology and that they promote my personal improvement by, for example, facilitating the reading of classic literature (an assertion upon which I stand fast – say what you will, Kindles are convenient). I now find myself in the odd position of being swamped by new toys, and I can only excuse the fatuous conduct by arguing that they are innocent pastimes. They have, I have to admit, given me cause to reflect more than once recently that the world of technology is becoming like an unfolding universe, or at the very least similar to the discovery of a new world. In as short a time as one year, my digital camera (which I once thought was the vanguard of know-how) now lies neglected in an uninhabited room of the house, replaced by the iPhone which not only takes perfectly good photos for the average amateur, but can within seconds send them around the globe by email “seamlessly”, that is, without having to download them from camera to computer then upload them from computer to email, and all without cords and plugs naturally! Last night when I visited my parents, they were enthralled to hear about all the amazing things I can do with an iPhone (and I was even able to rebuff their united scepticism by informing them about iCloud which enables me to wipe the device clean without even knowing where it is, or reload any lost data), quite apart from now commonplace things like voice-activated telephoning, visual phone calls and robotic searching of the internet and party planning.
If one allows oneself to become jaundiced enough about life, it is quickly apparent that there isn’t much to write home about. In fact more and more of my friends and acquaintances are commenting to me with increasing regularity how despondent they are about life and living. As a matter of policy, I resist the temptation to do so, but admittedly there are times when I’m hard pressed for a reason. The tragedy about getting older and wiser is that the gimmicks no longer work. Instead one is bound to discover a more substantive basis for draining one’s time and money, certainly neither a welcome nor an easy task. It is unappetizing to have to formulate a reason to be happy. Perhaps running into that very wall is the secret, for it provides the single alternative, which is merely to enjoy what one can or whatever comes along. This doesn’t sound like a positive approach, but it has to be respected as pragmatic. In a world where desire has so blatantly exceeded need, such flat promise may be all that is required.