High Horse HungMy Grandmother accused me the other day of getting on a high horse, being "all snooty" about explaining how the cell phone works. I was stung! I mean, yes I was being a bit acerbic because she was being dense, and the only tool useful against density is a certain cutting tone.
She was asking what happens when you dial a wrong number on the cell-phone, and I was trying to explain to her that it's the same thing that happens when you dial a wrong number from any phone...ie, you disturb the wrong person...but she couldn't grasp that our new cell-phone is simply the same as the cordless phone we've had for years, but that it can get much much farther away from the base, which happens to be in orbit around the earth. She can't think of it as working like a normal phone because you dial it differently, having to push the red button until the phone turns on and then the green button to pick up the signal and the red button again to hang up...and then there's the cursor buttons and the speed-dial and the OK and CLR buttons, all très mysterieux and very very small. All of which she was trying to get me to explain to her without having the actual phone in front of us to demonstrate upon...and while I was watching television...so it's really no wonder if I sounded a little snooty and high-horsed.
I try to be patient with Grandmother and her technophobia, but it's hard. The thing is that I think she learned her last really new concept in 1958 and there just isn't room in her age-diminishing brain for more. The last machines she mastered were the microwave and the touchtone telephone in the late 80s. She doesn't understand the VCR, the remote control, the ATM, or the answering machine. I tried to help her learn about the computer enough to sign into Yahoo and get email, but I just can't get her to understand what this machine does...to her it's all magic, and not a very trustworthy magic, either. She gets all flustered by the amount of information and the tininess of the print on the buttons and the sounds and sudden deletions, and then she resents me for not being able to impart my knowledge to her...as if it's my fault that she's can't understand. I mean, I used to do this for a living, teaching computer-illiterate people how to use computers...but they managed to learn it eventually, and she never does. She forgets everything she learned about Computer the moment she steps away from the desk. How can you teach someone with all the retention of a chiffon curtain?
What I don't understand is her inability to accept her own inabilities. I mean, why does she even want to learn about these gadgets and gizmos? Especially after she has demonstrated a distinct lack of ability? I would have dismissed all these newfangled whatchamacallits long ago if I'd had that much trouble. I guess it's just that she's from a generation that believed that you can be anything you want to be if you try hard enough, while I come from a generation that believed that you become what you're meant to be just by being...and I am an especially lazy example of the species. It has always seemed to me that if I simply can't understand something, then it is not for me to understand. I can study it, I can think about it, but if I don't understand it I can only empathize with it from a distance.
Sometimes it's a matter of explanation...I never understood mathematics until my college years when somebody presented it to me as logic-puzzles...but most of the time it's because the concept or knowledge is simply outside of my frame of reference. Like I don't understand sports or religion. It's too far away from how I think and what I do understand, so that I simply cannot get a grasp on it. What possible difference can it make to you if "your" team wins or loses? How can anybody get emotionally involved in a three-hour spectacle in which the same thing always happens? How can anybody surrender their own reason to the keeping of a minister or dogma without questioning its validity? How can anybody get all het up about whether or not this ritual or that liturgy is exclusively pleasing to God? These things don't make sense to me. And I have given them a lot of thought, and they remain mysteries. Because it is Simply Beyond Me. And I can accept that.
But then, we can never force other people to accept things...we can only accept that they don't accept them...God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...
Have you noticed that I complain a lot? I mean, more lately than usual? I do enjoy complaining, and it's really good mental exercise, but I'm getting tired of being so negative all the time. I need to pull myself up by the jockstraps and get my attitude back on a sunshiney track. I'm going to start by doing my gratitude meditations in the morning...think of all the things I have for which I am grateful, instead of sulking in bed for "just ten more minutes." I know that when I start my day with some regimen instead of lurking under the covers, I feel better. So my first regimen will be gratitude.
Oooh, and here's something for which I am always grateful: