Friday, December 29, 2017

Tidying Up

At three o'clock this morning I pitched about in bed crafting in my head an email to Bell Canada, the network provider for my iPhone 7.  This is not the first time I have written to Bell Canada.  In fact sadly for the past four years it has been a monthly obligation - at least during our winter sojourn in the United States of America when under the minacious cloud of "roaming charges".  Every month Bell Canada levied incorrect charges on our account notwithstading a prearranged "Travel Plan".  We had hoped to obviate a repetition of the annoyance by adopting a new plan available for the first time this year. Apparently we're not out of the woods.  I received a text warning from Bell Canada mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that I am potentially incurring roaming charges. I investigated my on-line account only to discover another assertion that I had exceeded my allowable limit.  Without trotting out my rebuttal, I have taken Bell Canada to task about these baseless allegations. My historical experience is that they make good their default though not without persistent and time-consuming complaint. This morning's effort was directed to eliminate the entrenchment of yet another miscalculation by anticipating the error prior to the settlement of the account on the 11th day of the coming month.  We'll see...

As earnest as I am about registering my concern with Bell Canada I am mindful that the front-line employee who has the misfortune to address my email is "only doing their job" and that it is entirely misplaced to suggest that the unlucky reader is in any way responsible (nor do I imagine they really care).  I have toned down the rhetoric. I present my case in a digestible format following basic debating technique - stating the question, providing the answer then supporting the claim with fact and principle (and finally proposing an alternative if all else fails). As taught in law school, "Tell the judge what you want then show him how to get there".

I realize I should be embarrassed to confess that the focus of my preoccupation today began with such a trifling matter. In defence I am compelled to observe that the iPhone is an incredible device which incrementally insinuates my life.  Quite apart from the convenience of being able to make and answer telephone calls at any time, I can keep abreast of on-going communications (email), check the location of my car (or lock it, open it, check the mileage, verify the air pressure in the tires or the need for an oil change or call for roadside assistance), determine the high tide, wind direction and temperature, get the distance between here and there, order a talking map for walking or driving, know the time, find my forgotten passwords, numeric codes and the addresses of anyone I need, see my bank balance, set up a date on my diary, take a photo or video (and send them instantly to others), send a pre-fab birthday card, listen to music or order and get more, read or order and get a book, print a document, talk with and contemporaneously see someone in the South Pacific, convert weights and measures, calculate how many steps I've taken and calories burned, etc.  As such maintaining the device is not without its note and naturally there is a cost associated with the convenience.  I prefer to keep the cost within bounds.  It's not unlike any other aspect of my material life nor obviously any less relevant. The appeasement of my sublunary howls has evolved whether up or down by strict design and I derive considerable pleasure in keeping the objects of my desire in apple pie order. Their incremental sparsity commensurately provokes greater scrutiny.

Though I doubt it will expiate my guilt to say so we subsequently discussed at breakfast the deeper truths surrounding meaningful communications with friends. The mental baggage of one's life must also be addressed. There are many rooms in one's mind and from time to time they too require tidying up. It is not without effort that one does so.  Facing the stark and sometimes blunt conclusions of our personal relationships is fraught with disarming truths.  Nonetheless like any other dilemma it is best considered and perhaps even anticipated before it descends into complete disarray. I won't say that the contemplation is a move to avoid the natural ramifications of interaction but it  certainly clears the path of conduct to decipher the perameters. I prefer not to tiptoe around people.  Knowing them however requires reflection and resolve. It is absurd to imagine that one can organize others the same way one arranges one's own affairs. Yet by putting one's relationships in order it imparts the same salubrious effect.  It may for example entail removing a particular disposition from in front of oneself and putting it on the shelf for another time; or recasting the purpose of a particular association; maybe even letting it go to the dustbin.

These two propositions - things and people - comprehend the total of my existence.  I concede that the spiritual realm pervades them both. I consider it no discredit to attribute ethereal delight to the most modest thing or acquaintance. Life is what you make it, I am firmly convinced! Sprucing up the primary features of one's life cannot be a bad thing.  And it is imperative to acknowledge what exactly are those primary features since otherwise the comprehension of life is mere pretence.  It matters not that the paint on the wall is turquoise, that the sea horses have faded with time. The appreciation of a tired image is no less magical.

There is yet one other domaine of interest - one's private thoughts (in which I include anxieties, hopes, dreams, reminiscences and regrets). To straighten out and unclutter those notions is just as demanding.  To succumb to the persuasion of life's external indicia without analysis is a missed opportunity at the very least. My objective is always to tidy up, to make things as neat as a pin. Quelling my fretfulness is no exception. I can't say that the goal is ever achieved completely, it's just as perpetual as having to tidy up anything else.

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