spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily

My  iPad


iPad / Pamela Graham
I told Jill at the Apple store I would come back and buy an iPad after I took my car to the car wash. Perhaps she thought I would be back that afternoon or at least by the next day. That would be her miscalculation. She could not know the mild terror I felt at the prospect of being hooked to the chain and bumped through the automated carwash. Perhaps it was two weeks later that I found a carwash, gritted my teeth, got hooked to the chain, bumped through and came out of the suds and blow dryer shining. Yet I did not immediately purchase the iPad of my desire. I had promised my friend, Kate, I would first buy an external hard drive to back up my computer.

A Sunday or so ago, my friend, Lindasusan, gave a sermon at First UU and because I was leading a spoken and silent meditation, I sat on the chancel and could see her sermon on her iPad! I fiddled with the paper on which I had written the poem I would recite; the value of an iPad increased tenfold.

But not having an iPad has value too. I love wanting it. The more I don’t own it, the more I want it. Wanting directs my attention. Of course, before I actually commit, I must consider all the options: KindleFire HD, Google Nexus7, etc. There’s lots to like about all the options, including price. Even writing about wanting has become interesting.

I want this iPad with the same passion I wanted a juice extractor, a large messy piece of machinery I imagined would make me healthy because of the carrots and kale I would be swilling. It sits unused. I wanted an espresso machine once, perhaps it was red. I remember my oldest son predicting I would not use it. He was right.

I know it’s the desire for whatever I currently want that thrills me. Apparently, it’s easy to confuse the desire and the object at which it is directed. Hope for changing one’s life attaches to an object, but my domicile and my past are cluttered with cast-offs that lost their luster soon after being acquired.

If you were to ask me, “What is the true nature of your desire?” I would say, “I want an iPad.” I have seen it explained that the compelling nature of wanting confuses the object with the underlying desire.

But the want isn’t quite like that. Nicole Daedone on tricycle.com talks about wanting, whether it is a person or an object. “Rather than feeling the pure burn of desire, we get caught in what the Buddha called tanha, in craving the object of our desire, believing we must have it to be happy. Tanha translates roughly to ‘thirst.’ We think we are thirsting for an object…. But what we actually desire is intimacy—the hydration of direct experience saturating our cells…love is found in the animating quality of our attention.”

That means so much to me because locking in on a desired object or experience makes me feel alive and purposeful. Each iPad, each object of my desire, fills me with so much enthusiasm, I don’t want to buy it for fear of ending the underlying feelings.

Eventually I will buy something. I have heard that in November new choices will be available and having gone this long with only the desire, I am eager to wait a bit longer. I realize that with iPads as with other people, Nicole Daedone has it right: love is really the animating quality of my attention, and is not inherent in the other or the object.

If I commit my attention to something or someone, I will not only experience love, I can become love, and the source of love can be seen as inside me. As for the iPad, it will not be a life-changer but useful for its purpose. Meanwhile, the glow continues to be on my relationship to the object of my desire rather than residing in the thing itself.

10/15/2012 03:01:30 am

I love it when someone expresses how I feel better than I could myself.

Gregory J Rittger
10/18/2012 01:45:49 pm

The freedom of not wanting has its merits as well! Excellent

linda posner
10/20/2012 01:56:55 am

I like the personal and poetic way you presented truth. lp

Comments are closed.