One Is Enough

by Chris de Serres

Sometimes I feel like a sick child being force fed my black soup.

I woke up this morning and opened up the laptop.  On Safari, I had a great article on how to eat in remote alpine environments.  There was three articles discussing today’s repeal and replace debacle.  Another article on Trump’s continued fascination with everything Putin.  Then there was my Facebook account, feeding me today’s trending articles at a rapid clip.  My last screen was an empty blog post on my WordPress account.  Just tempting me to write something.

My eyes glazed over the articles, reading a paragraph here and there.  I tossed the laptop in my bag and took the bus to work.  On the ride, I listened to an excellent Sam Harris podcast focused on how the rest of the world is perceiving this surreal reality that is America today.

At work, I pulled out the latest edition of The Atlantic and Harpers and set it aside for my lunch break.  The covers of both figured prominently many articles about Trump.

Meanwhile, all I could think about was that empty blog post waiting for me.  Then I thought about Thoreau.

“And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, – we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”


Our world is so drastically faster.  Our hungers too.  Yet, we want to move backward to a simpler time.  A time, not too long ago, where we didn’t have instant access devices.  We could disconnect and we would.

How few opportunities we have to just be present.  I met my wife over the internet.  One of the funny things we do is sit together in front of our laptops making snide comments about each other on Facebook.  We are so wired in.  I am so wired in and sometimes I can barely move.

It isn’t how I want my daughter to experience her childhood.  I got a chance to run around in wild places, to get lost, and imagine my own worlds.  There was no visuals guiding me.  There was no Lord of The Rings movies.  We only had the books and what we imagined each character to be.  We exercised our creativity always.

On an ordinary day, I spend at least 7 hours at work on the computer.  I go home and burn a few more on my laptop or watching television.  Yet, all I ever want to do is drive to Yosemite and stay there for a month.  I have these guidebooks to places like the Bugaboos.  Otherworldly places I have yet to visit.  Beautiful places I have been meaning to come back to.  The Cordillera Blanca in Peru.  The High Sierra.  I see pictures on Facebook from my favorite climbers.  They are in these places now.  These places feel so far away from a laptop screen in Seattle.

We are always forgetting to let fresh air in.  To save our capacities for the meaningful things.  There is so much going on in this world and we try so hard to keep up.  I guess I don’t ask myself what is it all for?  Why do I need to know so much about what’s going on in the world?  How is all of it contributing positively to my life?  If I am unable to filter the information, should I just turn my back on it completely?

I feel that I am well acquainted with the principle.  Is that not enough?