May 4, 2013

Give Us This Day

I am among the slim majority of American adults who do not use a smartphone.  My phone looks, roughly, like this.  I'm told it's indestructible, and I'm not going to get another phone until this one is unusable, so it may be a while.  The real question is, Why do I care?

I don't need a smartphone.  I don't.  I'm home a lot of the time, and there's internet access here.  I actually like not being accessible by e-mail when I'm out.  My phone can call and text, and that's plenty.

But there's this part of me that really wants a smartphone.

That part sounds like this:  Everybody else has one, she whines.  I could have my calendar when I'm out, she reasons.  It would be fun, she imagines.  It's not fair, she protests.

My teenage son got a smartphone today.  No data plan, just wi fi.  And I have phone envy.

I've been thinking a lot lately about these two, competing parts of me, these two seats of want.  I want to be like everybody else, and I want to be different.  I want what I want, and I want to sit with the discipline of doing without.  I want to indulge and I want to fast.

It's Id vs. Ego.

It's not a tug-of-war I can win.  Either way, I'm trying to have what I want.  It's a zero-sum game.  Either way, I lose.

If my Id gets what she wants, the satisfaction is fleeting and shallow.  Newness never lasts.  Glitter fades.  If Ego wins, the satisfaction is brittle, dry, a little sour.  Good for you.

I have begun to wonder what the other choice, the third choice, might be.  I used to think I didn't know what I wanted.  I thought the question was, What do I want?  Now I think that's wrong.  I want lots of things, and they cancel each other out and they don't amount to much anyway.  No, there must be a different question.

It's too pithy to say, What does God want for me? even though that's a very important question.  Maybe it strikes me as lacking because it begs another question, Who is the "me"?  Who am I?

Because I'm both the girl who wants a smartphone to play with and the woman who wants a break from technology.  I'm the woman who sees the practicality of having the internet in her pocket and the girl who wants to be free of the responsibility of being available all the time.

I keep imagining that if I could hold it all in tension, something new would emerge, the "me" underneath.  I suspect that the problem is not that that woman doesn't know what she wants.  The fact is, she has what she wants.  The woman under, or maybe within, has every single thing she has ever wanted right now.  Her sense of completeness precludes any questions about having or not having.

"Give us this day our daily bread..."  I, at least, typically take those words to mean, give us enough for this day, just what we need for now.  And I suspect they are meant to mean that.  But I read once that they might also refer to the feast we're meant to share in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Give us this day...  Not simply what we need to survive, but the grandest feast there is.  If I believe that the Kingdom is here and now, I can join in the feast today.  I don't have to wait.  There's nothing more to wait for.  It's all here now.  Nothing to want.  Just dig in.

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