The Pennsylvania Dutch, better
known as the Amish, have a quaint take on progress. They can take it or leave
it. Which of us doesn't sometimes get overwhelmed by technology, stressed by
the pace of the rat race, and wish we could ride off into the sunset in our
We daydream of dropping our chains,
but it doesn't work that way for the Amish. Behind the buggies, regulation
beards, and cute hair bonnets are religious patriarchs ready to summon the
dabbler in bicycles and cellphones to an inquest. Viewed as an enemy at the
gates, modernity invokes a state of siege with all community members
conscripted. Whereas we can decide to turn off our TV's, they can never turn
theirs on. We can choose moderation, but for them that is a sin.
With moderation, however, comes the
need to make decisions, to master our personal progress, to leverage technology
to achieve our dreams instead of letting it take us for a ride.
Many moons ago, pecking away at my
laptop on a picnic table in a national park, a hiker stomped by with the
remark, "Some people just can't leave the office behind."
Somehow I had the cheek to reply,
"But this is my office."
The hiker grumbled off, leaving me
to think about how I can be true to my pronouncement. From that day forward, I
never looked for hideouts where cellphones couldn't reach me. Some few times, I
even practiced my mastery by listening to it ring without answering it,
surprised that I could do it, and even more surprised that the world felt OK
afterward. A sense of liberation followed whereby I was no longer ashamed to
seek WiFi near a forest, knowing that I could trust myself to go on a
Here I am banging out my thoughts
with keycaps and electrons, a waterfall waiting patiently around the bend, and
feeling not just sinless but blessed.
The Amish bid farewell
Rooting around the pond muck
Picket charged across this open field at
Was it something I said?
What did the grownups do here at Little Round
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