What Already Is…
by Nancy Colier
The other day a friend of mine told me about a weekend conference taking place about women and technology. Since I am investigating technology and I am a woman, I thought I should check it out. I could not attend the conference in person so I streamed via the web. Unfortunately, the first video I viewed spooked me so deeply that I never made it back to see what else was happening at the site.
The presentation was by a mommy blogger/expert, who was sharing tools for women who were traveling (to the conference for example), and leaving their children with a caretaker. In the video, the blogger/expert, dressed in a lovely tan business suit with a patterned scarf, offered three tips for women traveling without their children.
1. Mommies should make sure to arrange ahead of time when they would call to speak with their children. The times chosen should be hours when the children would be available to speak.
2. The mommies should make sure to alert the caretakers to any times in the day that would be particularly stressful for their children, as in homework time.
3. Mommies should review any chores for which the children are responsible, with the caretakers AND children present, making sure that everyone is aware of the children’s tasks while the mommies are away. These were her tips for traveling mommies.
Now I may be old fashioned but these “tools” (even the word “tools” sends shivers up my spine), to me, sound like what used to be called living, relating, or the decisions that generally just fall into the category of being a human being. Maybe the technical language might be “common sense.” I wondered, do we really need a power point presentation from a mommy blogger/expert to tell us to call our children when they are free to come to the phone?
I was so perplexed by these expert suggestions that I had to call a friend to come over and watch the video again. She said that it reminded her of an infomercial/instructional video on how to slice a mango.
The internet boom is creating a technological language around what used to just be part of or integrated into basic human interaction. Will we soon need to be reminded to breathe too, before we pick up the phone to call? Or perhaps to go to the bathroom when we feel the urge? If we have a relationship with our children, and our caretaker (which presumably we would if we are leaving our children in their care) do we really need “tools” for how to function when we are home or away? We are developing a science and an industry around what already is, and spending a tremendous amount of time congratulating ourselves on the packaging of what just is. There is something eerily unnerving about a woman streaming into my home, appearing on my desk, and telling me that I should communicate and have a relationship with the person with whom I entrust my children.
My women-friends who have become deeply involved in the web remind me of Stepford wives whose souls have been snatched, leaving behind only their cupcake-frosted frames. Where have they gone, these women who are clapping and congratulating this mommy blogger on her earth-shattering “tools” for what used to be considered “being a mommy”?
What’s the big deal you might ask?
So what that we are repeating the obvious, as if it were something terrific and worth dialoguing about? The big deal or poisonous part of all this is that our focus is now on packaging life in place of living of it.
It reminds me of a friend who recently returned from a conference on film making. The entire dialogue was on how to use technology to sell the film, and the filmmaker. Absent was any discussion about the work itself, on creating story lines and characters that would move audiences or shed light on the human condition. Creating instructional videos on what we might have previously considered “living life” is co-opting life itself. We have turned life into an object, and worse, a product. Life has become a “something” that we relate to through a strategy or plan. Instead of experiencing life directly, from inside it, we are experiencing life through a middle-woman, a marketing expert, who is voicing over our own existence.
As a result, we are depriving ourselves of the staggering gift that we have been given: life itself, and accepting a hollow substitute in its place.
Of course it is important to spend time thinking about what our children need and what we need when we are away (and when we are home) and of course we must dialogue with all those in our life about how we can best take care of those we love, but can’t we do all this without turning any of it into a plan or strategy, without aiming a laser pointer at it?
In making life into an object, the mind is once again strengthening its position as the boss of us, of our true nature. In truth, we do not need instructional videos on how to be. We are human “beings” after all. The new science, strategy and language around what is really just plain living, being alive, is reinforcing the belief that being is something that we must be taught (usually for a fee), and worse, manufacture. And yet, our human being-ness is not and can not be a construction of the mind or any industry. Nothing—not even the mind— precedes or can create our being. But because the mind has successfully convinced us that we need it to teach us how to be human we are now relying on the mind and its resulting industries for what we already know—who we already are.
“Being human” is an item that we can safely remove from the current “to do” list.” ~Nancy C.
When we stop trying to figure out how to be human, we will again remember our inherent humanness. While it may put a dent in several new industries, and reduce the need for so much new information, in fact, “being human” is an item that we can safely remove from the current “to do” list. We do not need a roll-out strategy, strategic plan or search engine optimization expert to teach us how to be alive, how to make what already is exist. The only thing that we need to do is to throw out the manuals and all those who tell us that we need them in order to be who we are.
Thankfully, the majesty of our basic human being-ness, of life itself, is greater than anyone or any technology could ever create or control.
Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, writer and public speaker. She graduated from the University of Virginia, Columbia University School of Social Work, The Focusing Institute and One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. A longtime student of Eastern spirituality, awareness practices form the ground of her work.
She is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in numerous publications — most recently on SparkPeople.com.
After having spent 25 years as a top-ranked equestrian on the national horse show circuit, Nancy serves as a performance consultant to competitive athletes and professional artists. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two daughters.