Technology should enable us to contribute

Life without a computer! I’d almost forgotten what it was like. Until late last week, that is, when in one crisis moment and without warning my computer suddenly went dead.

And after an emergency telephone call, it looked as though help could be as much as half a week away.

As I stared unbelieving at that cold, lifeless, worthless box that had been my computer, the enormity of the problem slowly sank in. My deadlines loomed but I wouldn’t be meeting them. And that’s not all.

In addition, there would be no e-mail to pick up. No faxes to send or receive. No chequebook to balance. No movie guide. No letters to write. No envelopes to print. No census reports to read. And worst of all, no bridge game to play.

No life at all when you come right down to it.

Ironically, all week, I’d been thinking about the simple life. Maybe you could say I’d been obsessed with it. And by late Friday, it seemed I had found the perfect ticket–Janet Luhrs’ recent book, “The Simple Living Guide.”

And that’s when I tried to send a fax to Broadway Press to request a review copy. It was, however, as though the computer understood that while I may talk, “simple,” I would probably always live “complex.”

Unless I was somehow forced to act.

Now I don’t really believe that a computer thinks like that; but, on the other hand, it did balk on sending that fax. And more than balking, it crashed. Leaving me with exactly the simple life I’d been seeking.

When it comes to simple living, I wouldn’t for one minute want to get along without a computer. Or for that matter a VCR. Or an automatic garage door opener. Or an ice-maker. Or a bread-maker. Or a coffee-maker. Or an automatic washer and dryer. Or a car with cruise control. Or a telephone answering machine.

And yet, sometimes I can’t help wondering just why we need all that technology–and whether it truly helps us to better fulfill our purpose here on earth.

Just before my computer crashed last week, I’d been updating my reading in the area of simple living and found to my surprise that Joe Dominguez, co-author of Vicki Robin of “Your Money or Your Life,” had died more than a year ago.

Now, I never knew Joe Dominguez personally, but still I grieved the loss.

As a young man, Dominguez worked on Wall Street and was very successful; however, instead of spending his money, he lived frugally and invested. Thus, by age 30, Dominguez was able to drop out.

From that point on, Dominguez lived a truly simple life, free from most technology, and taught others how to do the same. He later co-authored “Your Money or Your Life” with Robin, and became a popular lecturer and seminar leader.

But since Joe lived a simple life, most of his earnings could go to charities.

“The Journal of Voluntary Simplicity” in its eulogy described Joe as someone who exemplified a life,” not based on how much we own but what kind of human beings we are and what we can give to the world.”

Indeed, technology is a wonderful thing, but in the final analysis, it isn’t what we own but what we contribute that will define the quality of our brief lives on this planet.