Wilder meets the Matrix

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Today I entered into a battle of wills with a website, and naturally, I lost. When this happens I want to take my laptop and throw  it through the big window at the front of the store. Not so ironically, the website is gunbroker.com.  As a Quaker pacifist, I definitely feel at a disadvantage when struggling against a website dealing with all means of firearms.

I am reminded of the movie The Matrix, where Keanu Reeves fought the machines that controlled the humans on earth (only humans refused to believe that the machines were in control.) Keanu, however, was a super tough guy with a very cool black leather outfit, and I am an old lady in a fairy coat.

This morning, Ron asked me to order a gun barrel for him off this site, but he was unsure how to register. I told him that of course I would do so for him. Easy-peasy! It is now 2:00 and I have still not successfully registered, even though I have tried hundreds of times. I decided to give in and call the customer support desk, but guess what? You have to be registered to contact customer support, you must do so on line, and there is NO telephone number to call where a human could conceivably help you.

I give up!!!

I wish we still lived in the pre-Matrix world where when you wanted to buy something, you went downtown to a store and found something you liked and bought it from someone you knew. I wish people still did all their shopping locally and didn’t fuel a media-created desire for made-in-china-crap from big box stores. Or even making plane reservations! Yesterday my daughter struggled to make reservations to come home for Christmas, and she kept getting error messages and thrown off the site. Wasn’t it so much better when you called a reservations agent and talked with a real, live person?

I also have issues with the malls of America. You can be in Asheville, Charlotte, or Anchorage, Alaska and you will see the same exact stores and the same merchandise in these stores. As if people in Alaska have the same needs and taste as those here. Maybe I’m giving people too much credit for being individuals. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking! Maybe people really just want to look and dress and decorate like everyone else.

Last night we were watching Antiques Roadshow, and a woman had brought in a gorgeous 19th century French breakfront she had purchased in the 1970’s in New Orleans. It was exquisite! She had paid $8000 for it way back then. The appraiser complimented her on the piece and pointed out its highlights. The new appraisal was $4000. The explanation: people now like modern furniture. All people? Really?

I understand that young people starting out want something different from what their parents had, and prefer Ikea cardboard to hand-crafted wood furniture. But surely, more mature folks have their own taste and will not be influenced by what they see in the media.

Or maybe I am the one who is out of step. It wouldn’t be the first time! I have noticed that from time to time, I march to a different beat.

On another note, we all feel riled up and worried in these dark days of winter with tales of torture and injustice ever in the news. Take heart from this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light”

said the Buddha,

before he died.

I think of this every morning

as the east begins

to tear off its many clouds

of darkness, to send up the first

signal—a white fan

streaked with pink and violet,

even green.

An old man, he lay down

between two sala trees,

and he might have said anything,

knowing it was his final hour.

The light burns upward,

it thickens and settles over the fields.

Around him, the villagers gathered

and stretched forward to listen.

Even before the sun itself

hangs, disattached, in the blue air,

I am touched everywhere

by its ocean of yellow waves.

No doubt he thought of everything

that had happened in his difficult life.

And then I feel the sun itself

as it blazes over the hills,

like a million flowers on fire—

clearly I’m not needed,

yet I feel myself turning

into something of inexplicable value.

Slowly, beneath the branches,

he raised his head.

He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.