They call this mindfulness these days. Awareness of your mind, your body, your surroundings, other living beings, their presence, your presence, your interactions with the world. We live in an age where “reality” itself is presented to us, constantly, in small, exciting boxes. These boxes arrive continuously, with alert beeps if you set your phone to give you notifications. You look at the phone and through a filter you instantly see a selected slice of life.
Your life is clearly not this selected thing you are looking at, but the irresistible device is designed to make you feel that it is very important. Breaking news, crucial, need to know, this just in, ten things that will make your jaw drop, five amazing secrets nobody will ever tell you, the seven, yea, eight best cures for distraction, the most erotic nude photo of the most beautiful person ever photographed, very tasteful. Click here.
All very compelling, but not your life. In most cases it is only the thinnest, most superficial slice of your life. In many cases it has nothing whatsoever to do with you as an individual and everything to do with you as part of a discrete/discreet  demographic.
I had some drama with my smartphone the last few days, it wasn’t letting me move, copy or delete photos. I take hundreds of photos, very happy now to finally have an excellent camera on my phone. I had more than 2,000 photos in the folder marked Camera. There have long been two folders marked Camera. The first has about 80 photos in it, the last one taken on July 4, 2017. All the photos since have been saved in a second folder, also marked Camera, which was created autonomously by the smartphone on July 5th.
Frustrated at being unable to delete or sort photos the last few days, I finally restarted the phone. The phone reset. When it came back on-line there was one folder marked Camera. It had 80 pictures in it, all taken before July 5, 2017. Almost every photo and video I’ve taken since is, inexplicably and without warning of any kind, no longer on the phone.
I think of this and consider it in the context of a glance I had at my face in a magnified mirror just now. I see the results of the original “plastic surgery” I had to close and cover the incisions from removing the basal cells on the right side of my nose a decade ago, a kidney shaped piece of shiny beef jerky, with jagged outlines. It is my own fault, I had shit insurance. The upper East Side surgeon wasn’t going to bust her ass for what they were paying her. My mother actually put up $500 for some cosmetic follow up, but that was clearly money down the toilet.
My skin is scarred, so the ugly one on my nose sort of blends in. My hair is gone, eyebrows scraggly. My teeth are crooked, uneven, brownish. My eyes are strained, pinkish in the whites, and they do not track exactly. I rarely look at my face closely in the mirror, and that’s better, since my general impression of myself is of a decent looking man. Do not look too close, you will see the enlarged pores, the tiny veins in the eyeballs, the unhealthy-looking little tags growing on your skin.
Still, it gave me perspective. I am a unique and beautiful creature, I realize and remind myself at times like this. It is not my skin, or even my bones, that make me this way. It is how I try to be with the creatures around me. I rarely clench my hands these days, they’re open. Soft to the touch. I do not often offend with my touch.
I don’t even mind taking a metaphorical punch, if there’s a chance for something better on the other side. I won’t take more than one, usually, but I extend that courtesy. It is a better world if we do extend each other the courtesy. Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Hillel’s Golden Rule, Ahimsa and all. Good enough for these deepest of thinkers, who am I to say no?
I will go to the T-Mobile store tomorrow and try to recover those deleted photos, though I have no reason to be optimistic. It would be a great bummer if they are gone forever, yes, but no less a blow than seeing that jagged piece of beef jerky over my right nostril, extending across half the lower nose, and half again as tall. A ragged dry lake bed on a bumpy, pitted topographical map in a place where the most lovely faces have a smooth expanse of skin. Think of any beautiful face.
That is what I see, actually, when I think of my face, when I think of faces I love. There is nothing to compare to those faces, in my world.
 discrete: individually separate and distinct. Discreet: careful and circumspect in one’s speech or actions, especially in order to avoid causing offense or to gain an advantage. also, intentionally unobtrusive.