Saturday, September 11, 2010

Material disquietude

I have here a 'Sony Walkman' radio and a 'Sony Walkman' compact disc
player. These I link to a pair of powerful 12v speakers to
satisfactorily serve my want of audio-entertainment. Last week the
jack-plug that connects these elements, and is necessarily frequently
transferred from radio to player and vice-versa, revolted; internal
wires within the tiny factory-sealed unit became fractured. A major
disaster; no music, no news!
'Wind', an internet service provider, provide my a slow but generally
adequate internet connection. Last week it failed. When I tried to
connect I could get no more than an error message. I telephoned 'Wind'
to report my problem and was told that the service had been suspended
because the last two monthly accounts had not been paid. I argued that
because I had set up a direct debit to settle my accounts as the fell
due this could not be so. The voice on the other end of the phone
confirmed that was indeed correct but, nonetheless, no money had
transferred from my bank; perhaps I ought to phone them to find out why.
My bank is not easy to telephone. Almost entirely automated, disembodied
voices offer seemingly endless choices of 'options' which do not include
'difficulties with Greek internet service providers'. Eventually I
managed to speak to a barely less robotic 'Customer Advisor' who advised
me that he could not help me; I would have to speak to 'Wind'! Next week
I shall travel to the nearest 'Wind' office at Kalamata to endeavour to
pay my outstanding accounts and to have my service restored. Practically
all cafés in the resort villages near to my home offer free wi-fi
internet connection but the nearest of these is a half-hour drive away.
I have become used, and to a degree dependent, on having a connection at
all times; another major disaster!
Last Thursday evening, as I was driving home, the rear nearside spring
of my trusty machine, a venerable Susuki jeep, suddenly and with a
dead-waking bang, snapped. I drove at walking speed to my garage where
Yanni, who for ten years now has looked after my machine, told me that
he could probably effect a repair by Tuesday. Normally I would have been
happy to walk anywhere I needed to go, far from being a hardship,
walking hereabouts in our usually benign climate is a great pleasure,
but I had staying with me a daughter and three grand-children who are
not used to having to walk a couple of hours or so to reach a beach and
another similar time to return home. I hired a car. A new spring and
four days car-hire; a major economic disaster!
Reflecting on my difficult week I realise that the stress and
disquietude caused by my major disasters all resulted from my
materialism. I was stressed and irritated because I have all these
material trappings. I am sure that there is a wonderful life to be
enjoyed without a personal vehicle, a computer (I have three here!),
cell-phone (I have many here!), camera (Three!), private internet
connection, radio (Four plus others built into in telephones and MP3
players!), GPS and so on and on and on. All of these things are
wonderfully clever gadgets but their life-enhancing qualities are
shallow and quite out of proportion to their capacity to induce stress
when, having become dependent upon them, they cease to function as they
are expected. To read Francis Chichester on astro-navigation and dead
reckoning or Frankl on Gothic architecture or Synge on the wheel-less
Aran Isles is to understand the extent of what can, and has been,
achieved by human beings with only the simplest of tools. Knowledge,
surely, is the foundation of a good life; knowledge including that of
how to live a contented life with only a minimum of material clutter.
Perhaps my difficult week has set me on that road but somehow I rather
doubt it.

1 comment:

The Flying Tortoise said...

Happiness is not what you have but what you can enjoy living without. Now where did I read that recently John...