Living with a Speech Impediment

Over the last few weeks, there has been a strange bug with my laptop’s keyboard. It was very subtle at first. Every now and then the ‘o’ key would stop registering. I was puzzled by it for a little while but eventually found that I could get out an ‘o’ by rapidly hitting a nearby key like ‘p’ or ‘i’. I searched online for a solution but it’s a known driver conflict with this type of computer and …. terminal. No one has found a permanent solution.

I made do, but recently it started getting worse. And worse. Some days I would sit down to make a vinaya presentation or post about a recent talk and would get up ten minutes later in frustration. Nothing would make an ‘o’ come out. Then the number ‘1’ joined. Recently, the F6 key went too, which wouldn’t matter except this laptop uses it for a vital CPU throttle function.

It was getting to the point where I was just avoiding the computer. Avoiding emails, and essays, and blog posts. Trying to say as little as possible online. We’d still have the meditations, but because I couldn’t post about them beforehand it was just, “Let’s see who comes?”. My own meditation practice certainly benefited, but everything else fell by the wayside.

It didn’t occur to me today that what I’ve been through is basically the computer equivalent of a progressive speech impediment. Losing sounds, and then only being able to fake them by making similar sounds, and finally not even being able to do even that much. Shutting down for fear of being judged for ‘nt knwing hw t type’. Another monk borrowing the computer even had a phone call with a pharmacist go awry when he couldn’t do a simple google search. He got hung up on.

I’ll admit, I haven’t always been in good humor about it. But in my more reflective moments it has been an interesting perspective. Life sometimes gives us these little glimpses into what are in other circumstances major life challenges. If we are mindful, and can step outside the minor inconvenience for a little while, we might see what our future holds for us. Sooner or later, we lose what we have. Our vigor, our faculties, and eventually our life. But, as they say, allowing ourselves to experience ‘dying before we die’, or learning from the loss of a minor thing before the big losses come, let’s us grow as people. We get to develop new ways of seeing the world. When our memory goes, or our elocution, or our ability to walk … it’s all variations on the same theme, and we’re prepared.

If I never got my O’s back, I would have to learn to rely on others. Borrow, and receive help. I couldn’t just hide from the world forever. I’d also get pretty good at copy-pasting. I tell you, the idea of using the voice recognition feature never occurred to me until this happened. Now, even as I get my functionality back, I’ve gained new skills. This is the way for one with dhamma on their side. Nothing is ever an obstacle – just a challenge and an opportunity to grow.

So I’ve grown a little bit, and also gotten a reprieve. By hooking up a wireless keyboard I once again have a full compliment of vowels. And the first word I typed was, “Oooooooohhhhh….”