Friday, April 9, 2010

Turning it off

Express Staff Writer

It is hard to look away from the financial news these days. I keep looking for signs of recovery, or some new scandal that will show us another villain who may be responsible for the collapse of the economy.

When did I become so intrigued by derivatives, GDP and interest rates? Why do I have to know about the international bond market anyway?

The recession has made an amateur economist out of me. I slow down to look at the crash on the side of the highway, which would make sense if I were a financial genius, and could provide some roadside assistance. Instead, I just get drawn in the drama and forget where I was headed in the first place.

The trouble with all this focus on financial matters is that I begin to feel like everything everywhere has a price, and the fate of the world hangs on whether that price is too high or too low.

There is a saying: Economists know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. I have decided I would rather have a wealth of knowledge than a knowledge of wealth. Searching the Internet for news, friends and clues to what is next has turned me into a voyeur, rather than a participant in the more soulful aspects of my life. I am dwelling in "the House of Possibility" described by Emily Dickenson, but producing far less poetry.

Back before the creation of the Internet, some friends and I followed a Navajo guy named Keith to some Anasazi ruins in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico for a ritual. We climbed a wooden ladder and entered an ancient Kiva where Keith built a fire and began to sing in his native language.

The blue sky slowly became covered in cotton-ball clouds and Keith said it looked like the underside of an eagle's wing and that we were all held under the wing of Mother Earth, where we should pray to be when it comes time to die.

Under the circumstances, we were all convinced that Keith was able to summon a dust devil that appeared before us in the canyon. The little twister came at the same time an eagle flew over the ruins.

I asked him where he was from and he pointed to the mountains to the south. He said he spoke little English when he left the reservation.

"My grandfather said not to get too confused by all the language out here," Keith told me. "He said there are only four words you need to know: good and bad, right and wrong."

I'm pretty sure the World Wide Web makes me feel smarter than I really am, just as boisterous people can sometimes make me feel dumber than I probably am. The Internet is quick, obvious and unavoidable, but lately I wonder how good it is at moving me forward on a spiritual path.

Information retrieval is helpful, but truth is ultimately personal, subjective and soulful, and has little to do with gathering information. It is good medicine to turn off the brothers Google from time to time and consider where we are going, and what we really want to pay attention to.

Tony Evans is a staff writer for the Idaho Mountain Express.

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