Do Not Disturb

by Chris de Serres


“Chris, you are very clear about what you want, but you are horrible about conveying it to others.”

I go to text messaging.  I click on “Do No Disturb”.  I do this three times.  Then I compose an email.

“Hey all, I won’t be seeing any future texts.  If you want to contact me call me on the phone or send an email.”

Then I turn my phone off.  I log off Facebook.  I begin organizing my emails.  Unsubscribe.  Unsubscribe.  Unsubscribe.  All newspapers are cancelled with the exception of New York Times and The Atlantic.

I take a few days off from work.  I contemplate my current social circle, residing largely online.  I wonder how I can rebuild my network in a more meaningful way.  An offline way.  Tethered in real-time, but in a physical world.  An existence curated for self-preservation.  Not opened up to any stray trending item in a feed.  Feeds are troughs filled with grain.  Pigs line up side-by-side to feed on it.  Are we all pigs lined up at the trough?  Feeding.

“So what you are saying is you are repulsed and disgusted and you have very little control.”

It hurts to see him in pain.  A father crying in front of son.  He never did.  He pleads with me for help.  I have very little influence.  Now I know that.  I am angry and filled with mixed-emotions, but I see that these words I speak can’t move the needle in the right direction.

I go back to texts and fingers hover over one last “Do Not Disturb.”  Mom.  All of these things converging at once.  Dying.  Grieving.  Old sibling discontent bleeding over for decades.  My own realization that I have given myself over to others, waiting for them to judge me, accept me, reject me, or ignore me.  I carry the weight and it is heavy.  My child and wife don’t see me because I am not there.  Squinting, shoulders compressed under it.  I look vacant.  I feel so exhaustibly tired and miserable without knowing why.

I press it.  Then I look my child in the eyes again.