An Eleventh Plague: At Passover

I have seen them in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
I have seen them in London, Paris, Rome.
I have seen them on the streets of New York City,

in the parks, in the subways,

in the restaurants. I have seen them on the beaches
of Southern California and Hawaii. I have seen them
in Egypt, in the Valley of the Kings, around the Pyramids.
I have seen them in Red Square, outside the Kremlin.
I have seen them on the gondolas in Venice.

Our daily music has become the first few bars
of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, or

The Wilhelm Tell overture,

or Eine Kleine Nachtmusik reduced to tinny jingles.
We hear it in the airports, in the supermarkets, in the hospitals.
We hear it in the deserts, on the beaches, on the mountaintops.

They are everywhere. We surrender our lives to them,
dividing our hours and days into the minutes
that we purchase for them, and seek desperately to fill.
Not one moment shall ever risk being empty,
not even in the vast, grand solitude of nature. Not even
on the freeways. Even in the thick of traffic, stalled,
isolated, encapsulated, we seek solace in what we call
communication. We punch in tiny numbers,
on our tiny keypads, listening for the magic
of the ring and knowing that our time will not be wasted,
no matter that we gladly waste the time of others
in our desperation. One single moment of boredom
is one moment more than we can bear. One single moment
of silence or solitude oppresses us intolerably.

We are wired. We are wireless. We speed dial.
We connect. We talk. We speak, not in tongues,
but in a multitude of languages. We have so much
to be said, so many thoughts of such importance,
needing urgently to be passed on to others,
we have so many needs to fill…


No problem. I’ll put my other call on hold
and take yours on call waiting. Or leave a message
on my voice mail, and I’ll get back to you
as soon as possible.
And by the way, remember, you can always
catch me on my cell phone. Any time.

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