Page 2 of 2A number of people are at the Bar, drinking
in the intoxicating computer savoir faire.
On my left is a sales counter. Everyone seems to know who they are and
what they want—purposeful, savvy, competent, hip—and isn’t it exciting?
Perhaps they’re as clueless as me, but I’m starting to feel very small
and out of place. I turn away from the counter toward the middle of the
store where there are freestanding product display cases. I can’t tell
what any of the products are, and having long forgotten what I’m doing
here, I’m feeling bereft and out of place.
woman with a name badge approaches me. With an easy, reassuring smile,
she asks if she can help. “I don’t know,” I confess, “I’ve gotten
overwhelmed with all the energy in the store, and I’m feeling small and
Cheerfully she inquires, “Have you tried meditation?”
may be overwhelmed, but I’m not about to admit that I’ve been
meditating for nearly forty-five years—apparently to no avail, or this
just wouldn’t be happening to me! Clearly I’m a failure at meditation,
because by now, by golly, I ought to be Master of the Universe! And if
not the whole wide universe, at least master of my own objectionable
are you still getting overwhelmed? You might want to admit what a
failure you are and try harder in the future. Meditate more, and life
will not be so impossible.
“A little,” I confess. “How about you?”
“Yes,” she says with a rush of confidence. “I’ve been meditating for almost three years.”
“Really? And how do you like it?”
“Oh, I just love it,” she beams. “It’s made all the difference, and I have such a wonderful teacher.”
“Really? A meditation teacher here in Marin County?”
hearing about her wonderful teacher and choking down her encouragement
to do more meditation, I excuse myself, saying, “Thank you for telling
me about your meditation practice. I think I need to go home and think
more carefully about what I want.” She may have thought I was talking
about what I really wanted in my life—perhaps more meditation? But I was
talking about calling in reinforcements.
laughs when I tell him about my Apple experience. “Ed, you’re a
meditation teacher, not a techie. Let me help you get what you need.”
after this, Calvin’s blessing on my ThinkPad apparently expires and I
really do need a new computer, so he arranges to meet me outside the Mac
store. “Now Ed,” he says, “before we go in, let’s sit down on the bench
and think carefully about what you want so we can focus on that and get
in and get out.”
women are strolling by, so while we’re talking, my eyes wander from
time to time, following the attractively dressed bodies: tight jeans,
low-slung belts, flash-of-color scarves. Then I start reflecting that
the women are not themselves beautiful—they just walk around looking
beautiful: “You do like my look, don’t you? It’s a good one, isn’t it?”
Beyond their look, I wonder who’s there? Not much in the way of clues.
What’s clear, though, and they don’t need to say it, is that “it’s not
for you, old man.” Life is basically impossible. You do it every day.
getting our list together: computer, modem for my dial-up. “Do you want
a service policy? Probably not. How about an iPod—you could use it in
your car, and I’ll help you get it set up.”
“Sure,” I say, “as long as I’m getting an Apple computer, I’ll get an iPod. I want one in that hot purple-pink.”
Calm as can be, somewhat deadpan, Calvin says, “Wow, you’re really getting into this shopping stuff, aren’t you Ed?”
tempted to tell Calvin my meditation must be going better, but I shrug.
Feeling confident with him by my side, I head into the store.
Illustration by Andre Slob.