It was like a black hole. Only it didn’t affect light. It only affected communication. Radio waves and the Internet and the telephone. All as good as dead in the zone around my mother’s small town apartment.
Great effort was required to get information in or out of the black hole, and even when there was success, it was often time-delayed to a most frustrating extent.
People would call me, but my phone didn’t ring. I might get a voicemail alert an hour or two later. Or not. I would try to call someone, but my phone would have no service. I would move around the apartment, flip phone opened up to reveal the home screen, looking for the words “no signal” to be replaced by the word “home”. There was no way of predicting where, exactly, the signal would suddenly appear, or how long it would last.
We had a crisis at work. It involved a nasty attack on our website and email. The first day of the attack I was in a different place about 25 miles away from my mother’s place. This other place was not the black hole, but in the context of my September, it seemed to be affected by the bending of communication lines in the vicinity of the black hole. I had phone connectivity, even 3G internet, but nothing that I could use with my laptop to do serious work. I had to travel to coffee shops to use the Internet to investigate and to solve the crisis. The first time. And the second time. On the third round I was over at my mother’s house. It was a fluke that I’d found out about it at all. I had to run to the magickal communications safety zone — the library on Main street — and sit out front on an ironwork chair at an ironwork table, plugged in to an outdoor power outlet and thanking the gods that it was still warm outside at 10:30 at night while I worked on rescuing vital data from a disabled server.
One morning, the hospital where my mother was recovering from surgery tried six times to reach me by phone. In the end, they spoke with a neighbor who lives about a mile away and asked her to come knock on the door. I needed to get to the hospital right away. My mother was in bad shape. She wasn’t going to make it. I’m glad to say that she did make it.
Two days later, my phone rang at 6:30 in the morning. I thought it might be the hospital again. I bolted out of bed, filled with adrenalin to answer the phone, only to discover that it wasn’t a new call at all. It was just a voicemail from a call that a friend made at 8:30 the night before.
I always think about how nice it would be to disconnect completely from the modern forms of communication. No Internet. No cell phones. Just peace and quiet and human interaction. But when I needed the communication tools and they failed me, it caused immense amounts of stress.
There are teachings that I have absorbed over the years about how to communicate with other people at a distance. I’ve used them before with close friends, my children, and fellow magick students. The techniques are useful for letting someone know that you are OK or that you need help. The are useful for sending messages of love and even a burst of encouragement when you know the other person needs it. But those techniques don’t work as well for modern business cases. They won’t fix a Web server or tell your co-workers what’s supposed to be in a bookkeeping report or a grant proposal.
It’s all very frustrating and exhausting, and I don’t know what to do about it exactly. Some people live their whole lives without the Internet or a phone connection and they are just fine with that. It’s not about capacity but about expectations. And I wonder what lessons can be learned from those expectations, knowing that I must go back to that black hole again soon…