The other day I finished my final exam for this years round of University study. I write this years round for study is a life long passion as well as being something of a vacation. It is a glistening oasis in my working week. In this sense the great bard was right, ‘all that glisters is not gold’. Musing on my exam questions and answers I decided to go for a celebratory slap-up supper at my favourite wood-fired pizza place in Lavender Bay.
While waiting for my McMahons Point Special, my attention was arrested by a well groomed anxious woman. I write arrested as she engaged me in conversation with loud cries; somewhat necessary I should hasten to add as my aural senses were otherwise occupied by my iPhone pumping out a Bach cantata. Torn from my reverie, I discovered that her troubled cries were not occasioned by physical distress. Rather it was an emotional torment at being in the company of another who did not display a cordial level of interest in her.
Removing my earphones and lifting my eyes from the screen, absorbed as I was in a series of Facebook status updates, I glanced momentarily to heaven; neglecting to realise that if the good Lord was not disposed to prevent this scene in the first instance he was unlikely to extricate me in the second. My gaze having returned from its ethereal sojourn to this most earthy scene I was met by a face yielding a frustrated countenance. Momentarily my companion in the queue for dinner paused, torn between pressing on and feelings of remorse at having crashed into my solitude. Steeled by my bemused smile she pressed on. ‘What’s so interesting in that screen?’ A cloud darkened my brow, but this soon passed as I realised this demand hid a more profound truth than at first I thought.
More effectively than ever we are connected to friends and family thousands of miles away, yet seldom has the gaping void between us and the ‘others’ in our immediate vicinity been wider. We traipse the streets with music or podcasts subsuming our auditory senses. We sit alone, eyes glued to movies, applications or documents on a dazzling array of mobile devices so that we seldom look at those around us. In trying to be closer to some people we are getting farther away from everyone else.