Speaking of Zen… and thoughts of Robert Pirsig’s book – “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – An Inquiry into Values”… I find interesting the manner in which we individually relate to technology… and furthermore, how we relate to technology and nature…
As demonstrated by two of the main characters in this work, some of us are all over technology… Some of us use it, but don’t care to know any more than we have to…beyond turning it on. Seems there are some similarly “hot” to “cold” attitudes with respect to nature, and spending time in the outdoors…especially if it involves any exposure to the elements, or distance from plumbing and electricity. Many of us are somewhere in between, in both areas.
Sometimes I think of myself as somewhat of an anomaly. Being an engineer, you’d think I’d be all up in technology. I am intrigued with technology, but my willingness to delve into it is somewhat limited. I see myself as being utility-minded, i.e., I want to know enough to use it effectively, and be able to fix it myself when necessary.
A relatively simple man, I’m not interested in being up on all the latest gizmos and their technology. For example, I have no GPS…no satellite radio, etc. My interests are more along the line of the essentials, and being prepared for adverse circumstances and potential repairs. A cell phone charging adapter, portable air pump, and an electrical multi-tester are more along the lines of my focus.
With respect to nature, I’m all over that. Raised the son of an avid hunter and fisherman, I was spoon-fed “woodsman” from the age of 5 or so. I have fond memories of being with my Dad in the snowy woods, heating lunch over a fire, and plinking with his .22 rifle. Even my Mom played a roll in my youthful education as an outdoorsman – we worked as a team in the “processing” of wild game for the table.
My Dad saw to it that the Boy Scouts played a major role in my development as a woodsman, as well as a citizen. The many merit badges and required activities necessary to become an Eagle Scout gave me a well-rounded education in a number of areas. My leadership skills no doubt also have their roots here.
Two accomplishments were the focus of my teenage years – attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, and being college bound. My grades didn’t add up to what my high school guidance counselor would call “college material” (as she informed me upon being initially turned down by the University of Delaware). Attending continuing education classes at night for the first year were necessary for me to show I was worthy of the chance to attend full-time.
Applying as an Agriculture Major was also key to my acceptance, although that was in line with my interest in Forestry at that time. It was an Introduction to Agricultural Engineering class during my first year as a full-time student that really grabbed me . I was beginning to visualize a career that would leverage on my interest in things mechanical, as well as nature and the outdoors. Ag Engineering (as we called it) was a mix of the theory necessary for understanding, practical knowledge, and lots of hands on application – this was the place for me.
Of all places, my career got it’s start in an oil refinery as a process operator. From there I moved onto the nuclear power industry, became interested in welding and certified as a welding inspector. The nuclear power industry kept me busy for 12 years or so, but the itch for the outdoors finally got to me. I bailed, and became a Teacher/Naturalist and manager of programs for the public for a non-profit nature center. From there, a full-time Hunter Education Instructor for a state Fish & Wildlife division, which included becoming a shooting instructor trainer. Again, a mixture of things mechanical and nature.
I would offer that I have limited my time spent delving deeper into technology to leave time for other things that interest me, for example, business. Owning and running a small business interested me enough to have me begin attending business development classes when I was in my early 30′s. One of the points driven home with me was that as a small business owner/operator one must wear many hats, and one would only have time to delve so far into any one area. Therefore, it was of key importance to build a network of advisors with whom to consult, complimenting one’s own limited depth on any one area.
I apply this same allocation of time and attention to how I relate to motorcycling. I pay little attention to the latest models, and bells & whistles, but I pay significant attention to maintaining our bikes, and riding itself. The other thing I pay significant attention to is the social aspect of riding, i.e., meeting and interacting with people along the way.
As it is with many things in life…it’s all about choices. There’s only so much time, and one must choose how to allocate that time. More in one area, means less in another. If you’ve read John Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” you get that it’s best to make those choices on the basis of a personal system of priorities.
So, how do I relate to technology? I find it intriguing, but I try to limit my attention to it because there are other areas of my life that need my time and attention. How do I relate to nature and the outdoors? Since attention to them is good for my head, and I have trouble taking time for me…I have trouble making time for them. I strive to take time for them, because I know that time spent in the outdoors enjoying nature has a positive impact on us. As I’ve written before, it helps us get re-centered. The fresh air and exercise is good for our bodies, as well.
I have more to add on the topic of how I relate to technology and nature together, but I’ll save that for another post.
Enough for now…