Editorial: My plug won’t pull: a forensic audit of mind time

Kokanee salmon near Valemount / ANDRU MCCRACKEN

I was working on a story about the kokanee salmon this week and took the time (an hour I said, as I slammed the door), to go to Camp Creek.

The creek is so real. The smell, sound and motion of running water is otherworldly, or maybe ‘this worldly’?

I knew I was going to take my shoes off and roll up my pant legs gingerly hopping rock to rock to get the shot I’m after. Not because it’s a better shot, but because I wanted to roll up my pant legs and hop rock to rock.

As I headed down the steep bank I see big swathes of underbrush matted down. Devil’s club, wee alder and grasses have been trammeled by something big and heavy.

On the side of the creek I see bear prints.

I sniffed the air for a foul smell and find a trace of it. Just a wee bit. I called out softly, and then loudly, hoping to alert any large omnivores of my presence in the gentlest way.

I spent a half hour going over logs and around devil’s club to move about 200m to find the path I should have been on (the wrong way was much more exhilarating). There I saw what I needed.

Four fish bright ruby red in the sun just eight feet away. Ripples on the surface obscured their image, but they did move a bit. And if they just moved ever so slightly I could get a clear shot… So there I waited at the stream’s edge. Barefoot. Pants rolled up. Hoping that these fish would just suddenly decide to move to the shallow clear edge of the water. It’s odd just waiting.

They don’t move to the clear calm shallows for a photo, but I see them. And it’s nice.

It reminded me of the sensation I had when I moved here in 2001.

I moved off the grid into a contemplative zone. A cave, in some sense. It was an oasis of clarity and connection. Out of the city, out of the smog, out of the traffic, out of the fear of terror (it was just weeks after 9/11), away from shopping, above money and beyond ambition. I moved into the pure brisk air. Monk like, full lotus on the mountain.

That was then.

Our valley is wired now. Wirelessly, for what it’s worth. Suddenly, after so many years, I notice the difference in my life.

Why do I have a smartphone? How did that happen? What other concessions have been made?

There is so much information, so many sources, so much intrigue, so many stories.

A lazy and rather stupid house cat called television, has grown ten times in size, leapt off the box in the corner of the room, and now has multiplied into myriad ferocious jungle cats. They’re berserk and in a frenzy. Full grown lions now, they maul us from our phones, our tablets, the screens that surround us, gnawing what’s left of our bullwhips, ready for the kill.

But these predators bring us a universe of important and true facts. A never ending library of very important articles.

Television, movies, of every era are at our fingertips.

There are too many ideas, I fear. Too much entertainment, too much news, too many headlines, too many ads which are too customized to refuse.

Back in the day we lived beside the screen, an immobile appliance that could not leave the room with you. Fifteen years later I see we have been taken as slaves.

We are brains in jars. Wirelessly connected to everything, everywhere… and completely disconnected from here, from those ruby red fish swimming in Camp Creek.

Two hours later, I arrived back home. Changed and ready to cast our home’s modem into a creek. Except that I needed it. For work, I tell myself.

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