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Quiet Desperation

Whether it’s gewgaws, gadgets or gigabytes, the less the merrier


“My echo, my shadow, and me.”

If you were to walk into my house right now, that’s about all you would see.

“We three, we’re all alone, living in a memory.”

I am not going anywhere, and my furniture wasn’t garnisheed.

(I have been waiting six years to use that word — “garnisheed.” I am not entirely certain I have used it correctly, but close enough.)

The place is going to be re-carpeted, so everything is neatly stacked in the studio.

Except for whatever I need every day.

It turns out what I need every day isn’t very much.

The major appliances sit on hardwood flooring, so they are still in place.

All that’s left in the master bedroom is the bed and the television. The computer is still on duty in the office. But the guest room is as bare naked as it was when I moved in here in 1993.

The look of the house right now is unexpectedly wonderful. The sight lines are quiet. There are no unneeded objects anywhere. There were very few to begin with.

Curmudgeons generally don’t collect figurines, gimcracks, or doodads.

The house as it is won’t be featured in anyone’s Parade of Homes. But I like it, and I wish that it could stay this way.

Of course, I need a couch, and living room chairs, and my bookshelves in my office, and what else?

I have been in homes that looked like three-dimensional scrapbooks. Family photographs everywhere, mementos of travel, endless end tables, and decorator pillows.

I have decided to rely more and more on my memory than on objects to remind me of memories.

Bloomberg View’s Shira Ovide wrote an article about the technologies that have engulfed our lives. Said she is “falling out of love” with them.

Me too.

Partly because of technologies and the ability to scrutinize, to hack, to bully — anonymously and privately — we live in a treacherous world.

A former local secondary school staff member is being investigated for allegedly recording clandestine cell-phone videos.

Ovide calls the voice-activated speakers from Amazon “creepy.”

I would add vacuum cleaners that wander around on their own.

And iPhones.

Yup. It’s 2017, and I still don’t have a cell phone. And I am doing all right.

I know I am a freak. Don’t need one. Maybe if I had children.

Jennifer has an application on her phone that allows her to locate her three children — with their permission — any time of day or night.

Facebook? Not on it. Nor do I tweet like Number 45. I have never sent a text. I wouldn’t know how. And I’m still standing.

Am I an out-of-touch and arrogant codger, who thinks his home is Walden or a Zen garden? No. I know what is going on.

Maybe if I were (much) younger, I would be just as inextricably linked to a phone as everyone else is.

It is now possible to appear to be clever-minded, articulate, informed, humorous, or interesting by pulling out a phone and sending a message, but only after doing a bit of a search.

But in person, on the spot, extemporaneously, those attributes have become more difficult to encounter.

We are, sometimes, what we can look up.

Look who is talking. Without the internet, I would sound like, uh, well, hmm, uh.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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