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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

I made a quiche today. It was a last minute decision this morning, as I scanned through the day in my head and saw a hole where lunch should be. I decided it needed to be filled with quiche.

Roasted red peppers, scallions, spinach, sausage and cheese. Real men may not eat quiche, but Ralph became a convert when he tasted this one.

It was as I filled the pie plate with all my lovely ingredients, thus filling the hole that was lunch, that this post unspooled in my head.

The word that started it: technology.

The reflection that ensued: technology connects us to so many things. People around the world, experiences, information, things we never would have known or seen or heard or learned.

I don’t know how you survive a pandemic without Zoom.

But as I was rolling out the crust for my quiche, I was forced to just…. stop. And roll. There were no instructions, no video playing in the background, no closeup or wide angle shots. There was no soundtrack. There was no hourglass timer or spinning rainbow wheel calculating how long it would take to flatten. There was no command Z when I accidentally lopped an edge off. There was no autocorrect to put scallions in my refrigerator when I realized I had forgotten to buy them and had to use plain onions instead.

And in that moment, for a few peaceful minutes of just pushing a wooden pin across a disc of dough, I felt calm. And connected – to myself.

And that’s when the word technology popped into my head because I thought wow, a whole minute without it, not even a lightbulb on in my kitchen. All I needed was an open pit fire and I could have gone completely Luddite.

It was the most peaceful moment I’ve had in days. And it got me thinking about how I may be connected to the world, but I’m very often completely disconnected from myself.

It’s in that silence when you turn off the TV and the phone is across the room and the computer is shut down that suddenly your brain gets itchy and agitated and starts spinning over a billion things, complete with rainbow wheels or the spinning wheel of death depending on whether your brain is Mac or PC.

It’s in that strange and foreign silence that you quickly pop on YouTube or scroll Reddit for cats doing cat things.

Even when I meditate, there’s technology. I put on my noise cancelling headphones and turn on my meditation app so it can ring me in and ring me out. Not that it’s preventing me from sitting, or even that it’s responsible for the screaming monkey in my head, but it’s still there.

Maybe that’s why I love cooking so much. My hands are busy, which keeps my mind quiet, and it’s just me and a rolling pin. Well, me and a rolling pin and 16 gallons of flour dusting every counter in the kitchen and probably nine bowls and a pile of peas rolling around on the floor and a stack of dishes and four half-open drawers and maybe there’s a live pigeon or an antelope in there, who knows. It’s pretty much a disaster.

But it’s me and my disaster, just us, making crust and quiche.

Alas, technology fails when it is most needed. To date, Rosie the Robot has never once come out to clean up after me.

These are the things that cross my mind when I’m rolling out crust.

I’m not saying technology is bad. At all. God knows I live my life with, about, and in part because of technology.

I sometimes wonder as a child of the 80s how the heck I ever managed to make a friend, or schedule a roller skating date, or even find the roller rink for that matter without GPS. I’m not giving up my tech any time soon.

I just think it’s worth reflecting on the fact that it’s not ALL. And that there are some things that can be done with, about, and because of ourselves. Like rolling out a crust even though I could buy one at the store.

Or even writing on paper instead of in a Word doc. I still journal on paper and do lots of things on paper because of this very reason. It feels connected in a way that a keyboard does not. Holding a pencil, feeling the scratch as you write, touching the paper. I guess it’s partly tactile. But that’s the thing technology kind of takes away. It’s the difference between slipping a record out of its sleeve and putting it on the turntable vs. tapping a button on the phone.

The point is that technology distances me from myself. When I read a book on my phone instead of turning pages. When I plug myself into a podcast while I’m walking in the park instead of hearing the birds. And I’m reminded of that when I’m rolling out a quiche crust, with flour in my ear and the smooth wood under my palms.

So that’s why I wanted to reflect on it today and maybe spend a little more time connecting with myself.

I don’t need to tap my phone to play the Mamma Mia album again, I know every single word by heart. I could just… roll crust and sing.

Photo: a slice of my favorite sausage-scallion-pepper-cheese quiche with a fresh side salad from the Farmers Market.