The new world of electronic communication we live in is nothing short of spectacular. There isn't anything you can ask that you cannot become enlightened about by asking Google. But beware, some of the so-called "knowledge" that comes back to our monitors should be taken with a grain of salt. And that includes information about nature, too.
It's the same with the gobbly-goop that comes to us via email. The political stuff fills my monitor more than I like, but the people who send it are sincere in their point of view, and feel I should be as well. Many of the people who send these political messages are good friends, so I glance at the stuff (to be polite) and then usually dump them in the world of "delete" - especially those that claim my big toe will grow to the size of a watermelon, or my first-born son will develop a mysterious rash on the end of his nose if I don't send it on, or back to the sender.
But what really knocks me out is the gross misinformation that leaps on my MacBook monitor; it often elicits laughter or groaning, depending on how much damage the junk does.
The first one that comes to mind is the nonsense that hit the Internet about three years ago regarding Mars coming so close to the earth that it was going to appear, "as large as the full-moon." That was a corker! Unfortunately, gullible computer geeks keep circulating it - I got it again just last week, in fact. The people who submit this goofy stuff - and forward it to everyone they know - mean well, but to save time and sanity, it should have gone into the "delete" or "junk" file when it first appeared.
And then there's the one I received last week that made the Mars silliness look like a pre-school fairy-tale. This one was about eagles and what they do to live longer when they reach 40-years of age. Talk about nonsense! It has to be the best or worst example - depending on your point-of-view - of email gone overboard as I've ever seen. How it got past the junk filter is unbelievable.
It states, that an eagle (bald and/or golden, take your pick) must regenerate its body parts in order to live longer. No kidding, according to this nonsense, the eagle must go to the top of a high mountain at 40 years of age. (According to this bona fide nonsense, said eagle must be 40 and must go to the top of the mountain for this to work.) Once on site, it must knock off its beak, pull out its talons and pluck out its feathers - and wait quietly for new ones to grow in - to reach 70. Oh, come on...
True, there are records of eagles living for almost 40 years in captivity, but 70 years? Don't hold your breath. Rebirth stories - such as the myth of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, horsehairs growing into worms, and geese growing from barnacles - have been part of human cultures for thousands of years.
The philosophy that we often need to undergo a painful and prolonged process of change in our lives in order to spiritually grow and move forward is, of course, helpful to society and the individual. But the ridiculous nonsense used to illustrate the message all but destroys the original intent.
Even Ray Sleeman's lovely poem about rebirth is diminished by such nonsense as eagles plucking out their talons and breaking their beaks:
"The phoenix is a myth that out of the ashes of death comes the rebirth of life.
Purity and serenity for all the world to see.
Honesty and Love is what it represents
Kindness and Caring for all to caress.
For the world to share in its meaning, and what it represents.
"Love your neighbours and your friends for tomorrow may be the end.
Live for today and not tomorrow as it may bring you more sorrow.
Dream a dream that will give you a smile
For the day to come will take you miles.
Smile and Laugh for the world is yours to hold.
Sweet dreams to all who read this poem
And all my hopes that your dreams come true."
I'm not so sure confirmation of internet and email messages through Snopes.com is at times dependable either. So, if you get an email that seems impossible to believe, it probably is.
That said, the other day my son, Reuben (a Mac guru) was helping me install a new DVD burner application, and when we were through he said, "OK, Pop, you can restart." Mac-people know the drill: go to the Apple menu, choose restart, click the mouse and the prompt comes up, "are you sure..." You say "yes" and away goes your Mac, for all practical purposes it's dead, kaput.
Then comes that lovely chime that says, "I'm alive! I'm here!" When that happened I began to laugh, and Reuben asked "What's so funny, Pop?"
"It isn't 'funny,' Reuben," I replied, "but 'joy.' That's what I'm going to hear when I die - Restart! My desktop will be filled with everything new, and the links will take me to places I couldn't imagine while I was living on this wonderful old Earth, my home-away-from-home."
I sincerely hope Steve Jobs heard it...