Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Personal Experience

The Parable of the Answering Machine

A man woke up one morning and wanted to start his day with making phone calls on his to-do-list. Surprise: No matter who he called, he got nothing more than an answering machine. As he went on his way he made every effort to start conversations, but no matter how hard he tried, he was unable to get beyond the usual "Hello, how are you--I am fine, how are you--Good-bye." He finished the day with an incredible feeling of isolation--Why, oh why can't I have a real response?

That night he awoke from a dream and in that dream, he was at a party. But no matter what he wanted to say, his own words sounded like a generic voice mail message. It was déjà vu – he heard himself saying the same things again and again and again. He thought: Am I nothing more than an answering machine? And are the people talking to me nothing more than voice mails set to an automatic response?

He went back to sleep. When he woke up again, he realized that his was a world of voice mails and answering machines. Everyone he heard and all that was said was prerecorded. It was a livable reality, comfortable, safe and secure as that of cattle grazing in a meadow.

And yet, it was not the peaceful, natural life of cows in a pasture. It was a robotic existence suspended in an electromechanical web of endless recorded messages.

He realized that his life had been little more than that dream, and that it was a dream he was saying good-bye to. He knew that now he was at the beginning of a journey of heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul communication.

6 comments:

sunsetovermarsh said...

hate to pigeonhole it, but the feeling it gives me is kind of how i feel when i read some of kafka's work--our best friend--though he's not one for ending on a positive note...would probably end with the protagonist dying of starvation in an alley as he was trying to have a real soul to soul heart to heart conversation with a sewer rat :P

Brigitte said...

very thought-provoking. Reminds me a little bit of The Matrix. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Howard,

I enjoyed your story. I will leave you a voice-mail about it. =)

lou

Anonymous said...

The superficiality of everyday communication. Maybe that's why blogging is so much fun. When we write, we can think before we communicate. As a result, our communication is more meaningful.

Sunshine

Anonymous said...

Nice reading. I would be interested in how it proceed to " a journey of heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul communication".

Tercsi

Howard said...

A secret to getting to heart to heart, soul to soul communication is to have empathy with those we communicate with. As to ways of finding empathy, I found it helps to read and reread Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication: The author explains how to overcome all kinds of obstacles that keep us from communicating with empathy.

Howard