4 May 2006

Dropping a 3rd generation iPod in a parking lot

I dropped my iPod yesterday, straight onto brick paving in the parking lot at campus. It squibbed out of my hands like an eel, and in slow motion I could see my toy of joy aiming its top left corner towards the centre of the earth. The shiny white plastic and polished metal back came apart. My heart skipped a beat. Just minutes previously I was listening to the Sneaker Pimps on it in the lab, and pulling articles on plant programmed cell death pathways off it for some Honours student and now it's just bits of plastic and metal. All 8000 songs, the first chapter of my thesis: gone.

I picked up the two halves and made a whole. The select button proved responsive to my touch. I spun up Depeche Mode's Never Let Me Down Again and went on as usual. It didn't let me down. My iPod now has a small dent in its top left corner. This is a battle scar that gives it character and shows that it belongs to me. Only now do I realize how much in love I am with this strict machine, what a significant part of my life it has become. All the noises that I like, the music that makes sense of my existence, it's all contained on this one device - an auxilliary organ - biomechanically fused to my body. Having it removed would be like severing a hand. Apple has enslaved me - the iPod senses my mood, presides over my waking hours. Sometimes I'll awaken it just to check the battery bar, like a paranoid parent shaking an infant awake just to be sure that it's still breathing.
Mine's still breathing.

"See the stars they're shining bright; everything's alright tonight"


Karen Little said...

i trembled as i read the first paragraph of that... thank god it still works! ouch! at least i now know that when the inevitable happens, and i drop my iPod, it may survive. thanks be to apple!

Wendy said...

My heart would have stopped! First chapter of thesis gone = death. 8000 songs gone = pain. Thankfully Steve Jobs and his colleagues are so clever!

~d said...

HOLY $#&@ !!!
that is all i could think.
Glad to kno yr baby survived!

kitty said...

Sorry, different thought altogether...

How did you first realise that orchids were your passion? and...
How are you able to consistantly remain positive?

(I have just read your comment on Karen's last suicide post.)

Unknown said...

In the end, all of human emotion can be deconstructed into chemicals. When something nice happens, hormones such as endorphins are secreted and neurotransmitters such as serotonin are released in your brain, causing pleasant sensations of wellbeing. We seek these out (this is how addictions start). By the same reasoning, stress also causes nasty hormones such as cortisol to be released, causing anxiety and palpitations. These make us unhappy. However, even though the brain is influenced by these chemicals, it is not a slave and is still in control of the body and can control the secretion of these chemicals in what's known as a feedback mechanism. When you realise that all of the anguish and turmoil you feel is basically chemistry, suddenly it's not so scary and alien anymore. It's the most natural thing in the world. Stimulus, response.

We musn't anthropomorphize (i.e. see human attributes where there are none). The universe isn't out to get you - it actually couldn't care less. It's a perfectly indifferent, objective observer.

You shouldn't deny what you feel. I've certainly felt disillusioned and frustrated; I'm not positive 100% of the time, and anyone who says they are, must be lying. But with all things being equal (see my indifferent universe theory above) you may as well enjoy life, because how you respond to situations influences the soup your brain is bathed in.

Here's my point of view: being positive is a state of mind. Stop focusing on the negative aspects of your life. I'm not saying you should deny them - acknowledge that there's room for improvement. Grieve for the things you've lost, the things you couldn't do today. Then stop and forget about it forever. There aren't any good reasons not to.

Your focus should be on tomorrow and the promise it holds. You have been blessed with tools, skills, opinions, opportunities, contacts, charms, talents and experiences that make you totally unique and precious, something to be nurtured and treasured. Inhabit the body and soul you have been granted with all of that, and don't beat yourself up about it when you can't, because it's only chemistry after all.

Unknown said...

Oh, and on the orchid thing:

I love the natural world and plants in particular. Also, I'm a geeky kind of guy who likes making lists and collecting things. This all came together splendidly after reading Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.

Here's a group of plants with the most unusual flowers, growing in the most exotic places, with the most unusual habits. There are more kinds of orchid than any other kind of plant. A lot of them live epiphytically (i.e. on other plants). Some need fire to flower. Some flower underground. Some trap bees and only release them when they've been coated with pollen. Some trick wasps into copulating with them. Some have petals over 90cm long. Some look and smell like decaying animal flesh. Some are so rare, so beautiful, that they cause people to go absolutely insane in order to get them - smuggling, bribery, jealousy, murder. It's such an interesting topic with endless variations; there's always a genus you've never seen before, an interesting story about an expedition to Ecuador, or China, or Table Mountain you've not heard, a new secret of cultivation to be shared. Cultivating orchids cultivates patience; coaxing a stubborn beauty into bud is a satisfying experience, showing a specimen plant bursting with flowers to a friend is a proud moment.

And they look pretty cool displayed in the living room, too.