Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Ever since search engines were invented, I've searched (now "googled") every question I've ever had. "What does a poison ivy rash look like?" "Why did The Ohio Players break up?" "Who invented meringue?" 

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's not knowing the answer to a question. That kind of stuff used to keep me up at night as I searched the memory banks of my brain. And once I thought I had the answer, there was no way to verify it quickly. 

I used to go to libraries and search books there so I could get a missing factoid out of my head once and for all. Searching a library in the old days meant sifting through little cards, writing down questionable cross-referenced book titles and locations, then searching the stacks for what you hoped was the book that held the magic answer. Oftentimes, it did not. Or it was checked out. Or it was only a step in a long feather-strewn goose chase.

One of the reasons I turned into a decent business systems analyst years ago was this constant quest for answers. And not just the answers, but the quest for relevant, probing questions as well. Search engines, then, became my best cyber friends.

But there are some things that Google cannot answer. 

I'm at the point in my life where things are getting more complicated. Family members' health issues, uncertainty about retirement and my own aging, and complicated relationships are just a few of those things. I thought life would get simpler as I became solidly entrenched in mid-life but that doesn't seem to be happening. The wisdom I gained in the past 50ish years did not prepare me for some of life's current challenges.

There are nights when I can't get myself off the couch and into bed because I want a little space in my head to think things through. Oftentimes, I find myself reaching for the MacBook and turning my gaze to the empty Google search box.

My cursor goes there and blinks at me as if to taunt me. "Go ahead. Try to google that one!" And I try. Entering words and phrases that yield some information. Yet information is not the same as answers.

I want to put my hands and head around a solid, proven approach to whatever personal mess I'm tangled up in. I sometimes get frustrated with my lack of answers on the web, trying even more to find the right words that will yield breadcrumbs leading my way out of the mid-life woods. I found myself getting angry that Google couldn't tell me when the pancreatic cancer would finally take my mother from me.

One of the Kathyisms I've got stored in my repertoire is, "You can't know everything." I've said that to others who have searched in vain for answers to life's elusive spiritual questions. But I have a hard time following my own words of wisdom.

In a world that has turned answers into a billion-dollar product, the priceless answers are nowhere to be found.


  1. Kathy, the Internet does not hold the answers, just the hope that you can put in the right combination of things you really want the answers to. If life was that simplistic, we'd all be sane. I am glad that I still get to wonder what is really going to happen. Such is my view.

  2. Thanks for your comment, David. I too love the mysteries of life. My problem comes when I am going through a difficult time and just want to know when or how it will end.

    Discussing the wonders of the universe and our common journey is super important to me. But sometimes I get tired of thinking.

  3. I'm seeing a lot of the issues you describe that you're dealing with. I come from a large family and I'm one of the youngest. One of my brothers passed away a month ago. We were roommates in our youth. I miss him a lot. My daughter-in-law is dealing with serious health issues and she's only 34. What I've come to terms with is the hits just keep on coming. One of my boys is autistic, and his mother doesn't care to deal with it. I've remarried several years ago and things are different and constantly evolve.

    I enjoy your blog and I hope you find the peace and enlightenment you need to cope with and enjoy whatever life experiences get thrown at you. Life's short, a cliche, I know, and embrace your loved ones.

    PS-I'm not very religious, but I envy those who are. It seems comforting for them and a good source of strength to lean on.

  4. David, I'm sorry for all that you're going through. No one deserves that.
    I do find comfort in my church community. Am I "religious" in the traditional sense of the word? Probably not. But I do find in UUism that I am allowed to search my own heart and head to find the answers that make sense to me. First Parish in Chelmsford, MA provides a nurturing, supportive, and positive environment for all of us answer-seekers. And I thank my lucky stars for that.
    Hang in there. I believe it does get better.

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