Reality is analog. All of it. These days, people seem a bit confused about what is real (analog) and what is unreal (virtual and/or digital). I’m here to help.
Have you ever gotten a digital haircut? How about digital surgery? While I did have surgery to implant a digital device to remind my heart to beat and my husband wears digital hearing aids, most of real life is deeply, substantively, painfully, gloriously analog.
For the past week, I have been having a recurring non-digital, significantly analog experience: I am giving myself a haircut. This involves a real pair of sharp, stainless steel hair shears and a lot of snipping of my real hair with those analog scissors. This is a process in which it is important to know if you analogically slip a snip, you cannot hit “undo” and replace a clump of hair. So you do it slowly, in stages. A clip or two at a time. No computers or other devices involved. Just … little analogic bits of hair falling gently and not virtually or digitally into your sink and down your neck.
If you are having trouble distinguishing the difference between analogical reality and virtual reality, here are some guidelines:
- If it makes you bleed, it’s analog.
- If it hurts, it’s analog.
- If it goes away when you turn off the device, it’s digital — and probably virtual.
- If you can fix it by reloading or hitting “undo”? Digital, virtual. Not real.
- If it looks like something out of Mordor and has scales, fangs, weird horns and is speaking in a strange tongue? It’s probably virtual but it also might be drug-related. Please check to see if you have been smoking or drinking (or both) before making assumptions. However, if it bites you with its fangs and removes a piece of you? And this event is followed by bleeding and pain? Toss the goggles and run. That is reality. Biting you.
Here’s the clincher: If you are doing something virtual while doing something analog, for example texting while driving? You may encounter the ultimate analog experience. Death. Game over.
One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up, then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.
“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.
“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.
“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.
“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”
The old lady smiled beatifically.
“I outlived the bitches,” she said.
That’s how I’m beginning to feel. Many, if not most of the people who done me wrong and about whom I used to obsess are gone. I’m not that old — not quite 70 — but as you age, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers. The smokers. The ones who never learned to let go of anger. The strange ones who kept playing hockey with life, but refused to wear a helmet.
Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attacks, and other diseases weed out others. The older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.
The biggest baddest villain of my life was my father. I stopped talking to him long before he died. I wrote about his death before it occurred. Most people who got to know me in recent years and read my book assumed he was dead. He wasn’t dead — not physically — but he was dead to me. By the time he died for real, it no longer mattered. Other stuff, time rendered unimportant. When I look around, few of the people with whom I had a beef are still here. Time has made the rest irrelevant.
Forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s letting go of anger and grudges. It’s about passing the heavy stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.
Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you or the worst stuff you’ve done.
I know people who had wonderful careers who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired or let go — negated everything. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 or more years later.
If you like yourself, you can find a way to be happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple — and that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head. The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The people who stabbed you in the back (you should have seen them coming). The times you were totally wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the novels you didn’t finish or never started. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.
If you throw that garbage out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly appear. Youth and health won’t return. But you won’t have to haul your past into the future. You can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed or lost.
The sooner you do it, the better. I wasted a lot of years hauling rubbish. Doing it sooner is better. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.