The Phone Rings

Caught in the swirl of worldly affairs, we long for a freedom that eludes us.

Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano

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Returning home from work or from a morning of household errands, we pause on the front porch, holding bags and packages in one arm while trying to work the door key, so absorbed in daydreams that we hardly know what the body is doing—when we hear the telephone ringing within. At once, our automatic motions are speeded up until, hopping and stumbling, we shove our way inside and drop our burdens on top of the table in the hall. There really is no time for reflection, but somehow, in the agitated moment before we seize the telephone on the table, we feel a worrisome sensation of coercion or dependence, as if we were not acting out of our own will at all but being pushed, being accelerated incomprehensibly through a series of habitual motions. Neither looking nor listening with any attentiveness, we have arrived home today just as a thousand times before, and now when the telephone signals us, we are not to any degree awakened but only stung to a quicker obedience.

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