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The Yoga of Things and the Internet of Things

June 6, 2014

Why? O why do we believe so fervently that if the yoke of ordinary things is lifted from us, that then, and only then, we can then enter into the kingdom of heaven? Smart guy on NPR the other day talking about the advent of the Smart Houses and the S*M*R*Test thing of all: The Internet of Things: On a soon to come golden day, your alarm clock and your coffee maker will be friends and when you wake up, your alarm will Tweet your coffee pot to heat and pour the water (that you put there last night) through the ground coffee (that you put there last night). Your BaristaBot(tm) will create some creamy froth art and then use its onboard camera to Instagram a snap of you enjoying this delicious beverage, post that to its Facebook status update, where that picture will be auto-liked by all your friends’ BaristaBots(tm), thus effectively: changing the time of day in which you prepare your coffee from morning to evening, providing you with a cup of steaming hot joe a little before you are ready for it, and depriving you of some portion of the morning’s psychemotor activity that actually helps you wake up.

Why do we want to be relieved of the basic embodied activities of life? We know what the result is:
scooters

Does anyone really think that turning over all the functions of life and home to the cloud and the net and their corporate hortators will make life better? All those glitches and bugs and viruses and incompatibilities on your laptop and phone can soon be inextricably interwoven through every material aspect of your life.remotes in a basket And what is the shape of our inner life, if its form tends to arise from the structure and nature of the outer? Is it any wonder that a pervasive emergent property of modern life is the “system crash?”

brazil wires

 

One day, a really smart technology company will transcend the child’s dream of making work go away, and start designing tools that ask a little more of us- a GPS app that helps us turn on our interior compass, field guide type species ID apps that teach us to see better, calendar and to-do apps that support and encourage cognitive function by offering opportunities for learning and some appropriate resistance.

“Yoga” means “yoke” and speaks to a seamless joining of the mind and body, but it also bespeaks the everyday discipline of harnessing ourselves, as Marge Piercy says, like an ox to the cart of life.

Americans think we have to go somewhere and buy something for a thing to even be a thing! But there is a yoga of the everyday world, a yoga of sweeping the floor, listening to the morning birdsong, kneading the bread, hoeing the weeds, weeding the database, scooping baby up into her sling, offering solace to a friend, looking your love in the eye- and yes; making the coffee. As Jack Kornfield says: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

There is no where you can look that you can not find this “Yoga of Things.” It doesn’t need to be bought or sold or controlled by anybody else but you. We have this one life, so far as we know, here on this embodied earth. Why are we so eager to give it away, to be done with it, to pay even, for some one to take it away, until realizing too late, that it is what we have?

I’ll leave the last word to Marge Piercy, and the last stanza of  “To Be of Use”.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Okay, see ya round, I gotta put out the laundry;)laundry boy

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