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Thursday, September 3, 2015

How Do You Know You're Alive?

There's sky diving and bungee jumping and motorcycle racing. There's that thing where you hold your breath and try to go deeper underwater than anyone else has without dying. There's bull riding and bull racing (you know, the men running in front of the bulls in Pamplona, the idiots). There's Parkour, every seven-year-old boy's dream. Don't forget hang gliding and hurricane chasing. Does the adrenaline rush verify existence? What's it take?

I have a young friend who is a record-holding slack-liner. There she walks between mountain peaks, wind buffeting her, rope swaying under her feet. She'll take a little bounce on the line; for heaven's sake, is she bored? She climbs sheer rock with nothing but pitons and boots. I can't even make it to the top of a climbing wall. She says no one else can say how much risk is too much for her. For her, the exhilaration outweighs the danger.

Allow me to digress. I promise to return to the question.

Have you ever felt exasperated with your computer? I mean, are you human? My computer crashed a few weeks ago, but is that aggravating enough? Noooo. Nope. It turns out my back-up drive failed last December. Oopsie. To add insult to injury, when they transferred my stuff to a new hard drive, oh, well, Microsoft Office – originally installed from a no-longer-to-be-found disc – was lost. My docs transferred to the new drive, but there was no Word to read them. (I was saved a heart attack as all my blogs were saved to Dropbox.) Microsoft had a two hour wait in their phone queue, so I sent them an e-mail. Fortunately I did not expect a response so I was not disappointed. I was NOT going to buy a new Office Suite for an old computer, so what to do? Hello, Open Office, you beauty, you!

A week after fussing with my documents, I went to transfer a CD onto my drive, and, oh, iTunes was gone. The tech thought my music had also disappeared, but I showed him where I'd seen it. He reinstalled i-tunes and my own tunes. It took me two weeks to get close to the starting point, TWO WEEKS of thorough, time-wasting exasperation. Now everything is saved to the lovely Clouououd. (I have a metaphor as the Cloud as God, but perhaps that's a topic for another Post.)

Let's talk about the bank. We are so spoiled. Gone are the days when a bank drive-through window was the great convenience. (Of course, also gone are the days when I walked into my bank, and the teller said, “Good morning, Mrs. Simon.”) Do you need cash? Pull over to the nearest ATM. Easier still, get some back at the grocery store. But if someone sends you a big check (you can only hope), or you need a to your bank. We put the errand off. We think, it will be easier to do it tomorrow. It niggles away at the the back of the brain, I have to go to the bank. How can one errand so irritating? What has the bank ever done to us that we find it so annoying?

Oho, then make a phone call, any call to any institution. Listen to the menu, push a button. Listen, push. Listen, push. By the time you're put on hold, you're so ticked off, you are screaming at the muzak. When a person finally answers, you are so fed up and grateful at the same time, you almost forget why you called.

Traffic. Need I say more? What are all those people doing out on the road? Don't they know I want to go somewhere? Don't they know I have to park? Don't they know I'm in a hurry?

Now, remember our original question? You don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to know you're alive. You don't have to do anything at all. Every daily irritation is existential proof. You know you're alive because you're annoyed.