in despair there are the most intense enjoyments, especially when one is very acutely conscious of the hopelessness of one’s position.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
You’re standing in line for a bus, and a man in an expensive looking suit in front of you is on his phone blathering about something called 5G, the transformative nature, the economic opportunity, how it’s going to change the way we live, and on and on and on. It’s a story you seem to hear (or overhear) frequently, but is it all hyperbole? What if it’s true? What if it’s been true in the past?
Isn’t this how all those Silicon Valley types make billions? Maybe you should drop all and everything in your life and follow the bouncing dot.com to similar riches? But with no understanding of the domain, it’s just like roulette to try and figure out which things truly have merit? And if they do, how do you participate? I mean, you don’t even know what a G is.
Are you doomed to sit on the sidelines (waiting for a bus) while others cash winning e-tickets?
You panic and pull out your phone and Google “G” and find out it’s the label for the change in communication protocols used by cellular networks. That makes no sense to you so you read more and learn that the first smartphones had 3G connectivity, 4G made it faster (could do streaming audio/video), and 5G was an even bigger step function. It hits you that you might be getting more G’s on your phone, but it hasn’t been really life-changing. You’re even more convinced you are being left behind.
What are you missing, other than your bus which came and left while you were staring at the phone? How do I get the G’s? Is it like a multivitamin or Viagra? Do I need to buy a new thing? Or upgrade my current thing? Maybe even put an antenna on top of the house? How do I get on top of the house? I’ll need to borrow a ladder from my neighbor. But I hate my neighbor.
All these thoughts stream through your head as yet another bus comes and leaves. You take a breath, count backwards from three, and dive back into Google. You pour over all the hype about so many transformative things (wireless communication, Quantum computing, Elon Musk’s rocket, drones, etc.) You scroll as if on fire and break into a sweat.
You know the answer is out there but the more things you find the more you regret missed opportunities. You finally break when you read about the recuperative powers of compression socks. Might they have helped you become a star basketball player in high school, an athlete envied by everyone, instead of the lonely kid high up in the stands wearing argyles and open-toed sandals? The remembrance fuels your determination to go all in, to stack all your chips on 5G, not like some Dilbert cartoon, but real transformation.
A surge of hope flows through you, you feel empowered and exhilarated that you are willing to take a risk, to go for it, to not be content to be a watcher of life. But then a shiver of doubt descends in the memory of an ex-girlfriend who was into eastern religions and who would always tell you there is no happiness in things, no nirvana, no transcendence. Then again, those same silicon valley types go to work in self-driving Tesla’s drinking a latte while you’re waiting for the bus racked with indecision.
Plus, didn’t the ex dump you for a hedge fund manager? Maybe there is happiness in things? And wouldn’t you be more enlightened if you found out?
You shed the momentary indecision and reaffirm that it’s time to get yours, to get in on the ground floor and make enough to start your own hedge fund. You’re sure the Buddha will understand.
Fortified, you see a new bus coming and smile wide. It’s a metaphor that good things are coming your way. It arrives and the door is opened.
You give the driver a cocky nod as you reach for your pass. You stop. Your pocket is empty. Both pockets are empty.
You realize you forgot everything that morning: wallet, pass, keys. Everything except your phone. But you don’t have the app on it to pay for the ticket. The driver shoos you off and the bus leaves. You stand there a moment; then trudge home.
After a while, your feet hurt and you find a park bench and collapse. A man in business attire on the other end of the bench is talking on his phone. You hear him mention 5G. You look closer and see compression socks sprouting from his wing tips.
You lose it and start to weep. He hands you a tissue and pats you on the back as he leaves. For the first time that morning, you feel, sort of, okay.
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