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17854216 - human hand on computer mouse  laptop on deskI was reminded again this week of how easy it is for me to walk through my days on automatic pilot and how quickly I fall out of consciousness while doing a task. Let me explain. On Tuesday my cursor disappeared from my computer screen. (I have a touchpad which I have been using for over three years.) No matter what we (I and my tech companion in the office who saves me all the time) tried, nothing would bring back that little arrow that makes things happen and allows me even the smallest success in communication. When I finally had time to visit the “Geek Squad” it took two experts to figure out that a mouse – a computer mouse, that is – might get me back up and running. Voila! It worked. Having breathed a large sigh of relief, I went back to my office and happily started to type again. Each time I needed to move the cursor for an edit or another function, I found my index finger circling around on the touchpad until I woke up to the fact that I needed the mouse to accomplish the move. My mind was on the text I was typing and the two tasks of hitting the keys and using the cursor were secondary and tertiary, just like so many other activities that I do automatically.

I stopped to think about driving, which is now made easier by automatic transmission – and soon to leave the driver out of the equation almost totally! I began to list so many things that I do in a day that allow me to multi-task and wondered whether I am served or not by the ease I find in daily living now. If I take an elevator instead of walking up stairs, I rob myself of the consciousness of putting one foot in front of the other and recognizing the actual as well as the symbolic value of that exercise. (While I can still do it, I plan to continue!) Washing dishes gives me the opportunity to be present to my task that starting the dishwasher does not – although loading the dishwasher and putting away the clean dishes can be conscious practices as well.

All of this comes back, of course, to the desire to go through life more consciously, which is also to say, more appreciatively. Sadly (maybe), my touchpad came back to life of its own accord yesterday (?) so that opportunity for increased consciousness has disappeared. I will hope to remember it, however, and keep the mouse handy in case my touchpad takes another vacation to teach me a lesson!