Monday, March 29, 2010

Mysteries and Secrets

Mysteries and Secrets

I love mystery novels. One of my favorites is the Victorian Mystery series by Robin Paige, which takes place in late 19th century England. Kate Ardleigh and her husband Sir Charles Sheridan are amateur sleuths. What is so interesting and educational are the real historical characters they encounter during their adventures: the Prince of Wales, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, and Chas. Rolls (of Rolls-Royce).

All sorts of new inventions and technology are explored in these novels: fingerprints, the camera, the motor car, etc. And the reactions of the people of that time to these new inventions and developments in crime detection. Change is difficult for people to accept. New technology is not always embraced at first. New ways of doing things are not trusted. Some things never change across the centuries! Like people’s attitudes.

One passage that set me thinking was Sir Charles’ explanation of how X-rays work to incredulous listeners. You can actually see inside the body, he says. Imagine the implications for medicine, says a local physician. We may one day even be able to observe the heart beating. And Kate replies: “And soon we will have no secrets at all”.

No secrets at all. That’s how I sometimes feel in the face of 21st century technology. All of these new wonders are robbing us of our secrets. Google anything, including your own name, and chances are you’ll find out more than you ever wanted to know. And when I go for a medical check-up to be scanned way beyond X-rays - blood tests, CT’s, MRI’s - discovering secrets I did not even know I had. Well, no wonder I and so many others distrust and fear these new fangled investigative devices. They take away our last illusion of control, shine an all-revealing light on our nice safe dark corners. No more secrets.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Running to Nowhere

For some time I have felt so impatient. Like I want to hurry everything through and get on to the next thing. No matter what it is. If I’m reading, I want to hurry and finish the book and immediately start the next. I call it “Chain Reading”, much like chain smoking except it‘s not destroying my lungs. I read 57 books last year. If I’m walking I want to hurry and get to some destination, usually the cafĂ© or some other place to eat. If I’m eating, I hurry to finish, hardly noticing the taste, never savoring.

I want the movie to be over so I can go on to the next thing. At work, I enjoy the planning but my goal is to finish and proceed to the next project -right away. I can’t stand to be without motion, to be still, to meditate, to focus, to pray. I want everything to be over and done with. Instead of breathing and delighting in where I am right now. And where I am right now is in flux. PS I hurried to finish this.