March 19, 2012
iPhone, Therefore I Am?

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I just had a realization. Well, maybe "realization" is too fancy a word. Make that more of an insight. Nah... "insight" sounds just a tad too self-congratulatory.

For want of a better word, let's call my little moment a semi-embarrassing wake up call -- the kind of learning experience I claim is good for me, but I really don't want to have.

It's a moment I've had a hundred times before, but not until two days ago, in Newark Airport, as I was exiting Flight #1140 from LA, did the whole thing really dawn on me.

There I was, merrily walking through Terminal "C", glad to be heading home after a three-day business trip, when I reached into my pocket for my trusty iPhone only to discover it wasn't there.

My iPhone wasn't there! Gone. It was gone. My iPhone was gone!

Gone, as in missing. Gone, as in not in my pocket. Gone, as in WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS MY FREAKING IPHONE with all those apps and appointments and contacts?

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No, I wasn't in Kansas anymore. Neither was I in New Jersey. I was in a sudden state of panic -- as far away from samadhi as a person could be, Woody Allen on steroids -- my former digital life flashing before my eyes.

Where just a minute ago I was a conscious human being firmly rooted in a deep experience of peace, now I was wildly slapping every pocket I could find like some kind of poster boy for Tourette's Syndrome

This ridiculous outtake from a movie that will never be made took less than five seconds (me having blissfully located the "missing iPhone" in my suit jacket pocket), but those five seconds were very revealing -- me (Mr. Been-On-The-Path-For-40-Years) so easily discombobulated by a (temporarily) missing phone.

Which, I guess, is a good thing -- as it popped, once again, the bubble of my own pitiful self-image of being so together -- that shiny golden calf I all-too-often worship at.


My little airport experience reminds me of that classic Zen story of the young monk who -- after ten years of deep practice in the mountain monastery -- is invited by his Master to give the morning talk at the local village temple.

The young monk's discourse was impeccable that day, his Master astounded by his protege's ability to quote from the most esoteric of Zen doctrine.

But when the talk was over and it was time for the young monk to begin his long trek back up the mountain, he could not find his sandals.

Apparently, in his excitement at having been asked to speak, he'd forgotten where he put them.

Unsmiling, his Master shot him a stern glance and pointed to the mountain top.

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"Ten more years, young friend. Ten more years."

And that's exactly how long it took the monk to be asked again to give the morning talk at the village temple.

The good news? On that day he remembered exactly where his sandals were.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 19, 2012 12:34 AM

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