Truth Joy Beauty

Just my thoughts and reflections about living and loving in the post-post modern age.

On the quality track (October 30, 2009)

There’s so much on the menu, my tongue is hanging out,” sings Kim Salmon in Saving me from me. And that pretty much sums up the wacky world of Internet dating in my mind. If you’re a reasonably attractive woman between the ages of 18 – 45 you are pretty much guaranteed a barrage of attention on any one of the numerous dating sites now online.
Granted, there are a lot of sad, lonely, disgusting and just plain unattractive men that are just throwing lines out willy nilly in a hope to get a response, but man oh man there are some hot babes on there as well!
I’m been approached by men (boys really) as young as 18 hoping for a big of ‘cougar’ action with a ‘hot older woman’, to well packaged men in their 30s and 40s who look like they know their way around a woman’s body, blindfolded. Especially blindfolded.
However while it is fun to gawk, flirt and chat online with these men I can’t help but think how different things are today from when I was last single and ‘dating’. Nine years ago, it was a matter of meeting guys down at the local pub, through friends, at gigs, or at work. Meeting someone that way just seems so… random now. I am pretty sure there will come a time when we will say, how did people meet back in the days before the Internet? Well, people obviously did meet, get together and procreate otherwise I would not be here writing this now!
But my initial excitement at being the centre of so much attention has somewhat waned. Something in the back of my mind was pleading caution. Something was putting the breaks on even while the momentum was picking up and I found myself simultaneously dating several guys at once.
However it wasn’t until I picked up and re-read a copy of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that I realized what it was that had been niggling at me, chipping away at my conscious mind like an annoying yet persistent well meaning friend. One word; Quality.

Robert Pirsig’s exploration into the philosophy of value and meaning was written in the seventies, at the beginning of our modern day flirtation with technology. A flirtation which is now a long standing and committed relationship. In the seventies, however, computers were in their infancy, plastic was still cool and people still said things like, “digg” and “jive”.
It’s an interesting read, now more than ever. Now that the world we live in has fully embraced and adapted to technology without reservation. But what is worth remembering is that once upon a time there was reservation. There was fear and there was a distrustfulness about all this technology and where it was leading us.
That may seem quite silly now. Technology is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I don’t know where I’d be without email, msn, and the Internet in general. (Out of a job for one.) But what strikes me as poignant and especially relevant to me today is Pirsig’s musings on quality. Quality he says is pretty much indefinable yet we know what it is. Somehow, we all know what quality is and what it looks like. What it should feel like, but it is very hard to define what that “it” actually is. Go on, try it. O.k. I will.
Quality is that meeting of mind and heart, (which is also beyond both of these things,) which points us in the right direction, even when we think we don’t know where we are going.
Quality is different. Quality feels different, smells different and pulsates differently so that it stands out even when we can’t figure out why.
The main thing that Pirsig says about quality that stood out for me was that if we aim for quality, then everything else becomes easier. But having said that, quality is not the easier route. It’s not always the most efficient way to do something, or the most practical. But maybe, it’s just the best.
One of my favourite lines from Zen and the Art is his notion of making good time…but that the emphasis should be on good rather than time.
And this one, “The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
Thing is when you aim for quality, rather than quantity your perspective on things changes, shifts rather.. seismically.
And that’s where I tie this all in. The Internet, is like a great big candy store of possibilities and of seeming endless variety and choice, whatever it is your looking for. But, how much of it is quality?

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