REFLECTION: When we visited Paris in 2004, we tried to see the exhibit featuring Monet’s waterlily paintings. When I inquired about their location and visiting hours at a Paris Museums Info Center, I was told most apologetically, “Ah, Madame, je suis desole que Nympheas de Monet sont invisibles.”
The translation was a bit skewed; but through subsequent exchanges we learned that the paintings themselves were not really invisible (at least in the English sense of the word). They’d not evaporated into thin air, but they had, in a manner of speaking, gone into hiding. L’Orangerie, the building that houses the Monet paintings was under renovation, and the paintings indeed could not be seen.
For some reason – who knows how the mind works – I was reminded of this exchange and the idea of being invisible or unreachable as I listened this morning to a radio report of a new techno gadget set to go to market. For an investment of a mere $150, the InPulse wristwatch grabs information arriving on your smart phone – caller ID, text messages, email titles, calendar alerts – and displays it on your wrist, while vibrating to catch your attention.
You can’t access the messages, but you can decide on the basis of the message, whether you will jump to your phone to respond. Apparently, a casual glance at your wristwatch is considered to be more discrete and polite – less distracting and dangerous – than a check of other ancillary devices. Forgive me for being naive (sarcasm alert), but if you are glancing at your watch every 15 or 20 seconds, it will soon become apparent that you are not simply checking the time.
For the life of me, I can’t see how this new gadget improves our world. It’s just one more tiny text device battling for our eyes and minds in an already overloaded environment.
ACTION: So, back to Paris. In the case of the Monet waterlilies, their invisibility – time out of circulation invested in renewal and upgrade – resulted in a fresh presentation that will continue to bring pleasure year after year. It certainly brought us delight when we were able to see them on a subsequent visit in 2008.
I wonder how much delight, creativity and refreshment strapping on yet one more ‘mother of all input gadgets’ will bring to our world. Who will we really be fooling when we sneak surreptitious glances in the direction of our wrists, while pretending to be attending to the world in front of us? Will being constantly connected to another electronic tether cause us to become more focused, or ever more frayed and fractured?
Suddenly, the prospect of a few minutes or hours of being invisible, unreachable, or out of the loop starts to look very attractive indeed.
Be careful. Be VERY careful about the tools you choose, lest they lead you somewhere you don’t really want to go!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The amount of genuine leisure available in a society is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labor-saving machinery it employs.” – E.F. Schumacher
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Speaking of items strapped to the wrist, two California based entrepreneurs have created a Pause bracelet, designed to help individuals be more present and less caught up in the crazy, busy, frenzy of life.
The capsule on the bracelet vibrates every 90 minutes as a reminder to step back from the busyness and take a second to be more present to life’s moments. You can check out their bracelet at Meaning To Pause.
I purchased one a few months ago and tried it myself. It certainly does a good job of getting your attention. Although I found the vibration just a shade more alarming than alerting, and the design not quite to my own taste aesthetically, I am a sample of one. They’re getting a positive response from many; and it might be just the thing for you.
READERS WRITE: Last week’s Pause e-zine with a Pick/n/Go theme prompted a lot of reader comments. I’ve pulled them together and posted them to my blog at Pick ‘n’ Go Talkback.
Enjoy, and feel free to talk back, yourself. Just toss in your two cents worth in the Comments box at the end of the blog posting.