I was a naïve newbie to Facebook when I first discovered the path to inner peace. One day I was reading Facebook comments when my eyes were drawn to the ad at the side of the page. It read “Today only! All 39-year-old women get 25% off on purses!” And I thought, Wow! How cool is that! What an amazing coincidence that there’s an ad for women my age! This must be my lucky day! (all right. It wasn’t 39. But let’s pretend). It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Facebook knew my age and just about every other fact about me and put that ad there to seduce me.
Facebook also must have known that I was on deadline, being treated for high blood pressure, and freaking out in my totally disorganized office, because a few days later a new ad appeared: The Inner Peace Pal (not the real name, but not all that different either) promised to help me find the calm buried deep within myself. I was suckered in once again. I clicked on the ad and went to a lovely site that told me how the The Inner Peace Pal could help me.
The Inner Peace Pal was a little program I could download on my computer to gently remind me to center myself throughout my workday. I could set it to send me the reminders every hour or every half hour or every ten minutes. Whatever I wanted. Well, I wanted inner peace in a big way, so I set the IPP to send me a reminder every five minutes.
Yes, you’re right. This was not a smart move.
The first twenty second reminder came as I was working on the manuscript for my most recent novel, The Lies We Told. The IPP dimmed my monitor screen with a pretty picture and suggested I shut my eyes and take in a few deep breaths, noticing how my lungs filled and emptied, filled and emptied. In and out. Ahh. Very nice.
Back to the manuscript, in which a category five hurricane was destroying Wilmington, North Carolina.
Five minutes later, the screen dimmed and the IPP suggested I shut my eyes and focus on the present moment, which I did. I felt the soft warm air on my arms and heard the chirping of birds through my open window. Lovely. This was nice.
My characters were doing this Doctors Without Borders type work in the airport, treating the victims of the hurricane. Helicopters filled with the wounded were landing every minute on the tarmac, and the life and death battle to save the injured was--
The screen dimmed. The Inner Peace Pal suggested I think about standing above a peaceful valley, stretching to the sky.
There was a little 'x' in the corner of the IPP screen and I hit it. I'd skip just this one reminder so I could get back to my manuscript. Maybe I should have set the IPP for every ten minutes, I thought. Or twenty. But I couldn't take the time to fiddle with it now.
Back to the helicopters. I’d created a romantic triangle between three of my characters and they were sweaty and tense, working in impossible conditions while their emotions were heating up and—
The screen dimmed. Focus on your internal organs, the Pal suggested. Think about all that is going on inside of you.
I hit the x.
That was it. I had to turn the program off. Only it wouldn’t turn off. No matter what I did, every five minutes it would try to calm me down. I went into the control panel of my computer and clicked on the “remove program” icon and removed the Inner Peace Program altogether.
Finally, peace. Back to work.
One of the helicopters landed, and despite the tension between them, my characters worked together to slide a patient onto a stretcher. They raced toward the airport, hoping they weren't too late to--
The screen dimmed.
I turned off the computer. Turned it back on. Five minutes later, the Pal told me to close my eyes and imagine I was floating in the air.
I told it to go @%#$ itself.
It took a couple of emails to the Pal’s inventor to rid my computer of the Inner Peace Pal.
So need Inner Peace? Stick to a yoga class and lemon ginger tea. Or just give in to your Inner Freak-Out. That’s what I’m going to do.