Our Default Mode

"We left it open all night!"


After our morning meditation, Alice and I make our tea (she) and coffee (me) and walk around our house enjoying the garden. One day as we made our way toward the driveway, we noticed the garage door was up. Normally careful after coming in from a bike ride or late afternoon shopping, we must have forgotten to close the door the previous evening.


Although our neighborhood is very safe, there are minor thefts and we would rather not be cause for temptation. So we purchased a wifi-based device which controls the garage door from a smartphone and monitors its activity and position. One aspect I like is that, at sunset each night, it checks the status of the door and, if open, closes the garage door after a 10-second warning alarm and flashing light. Geek I am.


Meaning: the garage door settles into "default mode" of closed and secured.


Now let's change modes.


A quote from Ross Gay: "The more you study delight, the more delight there is to study...I felt my life to be more full of delight. Not without sorrow or fear or pain or loss. But more full of delight."


Gay goes on to say that more people trust and have good manners than we might notice. He noticed that when they are on trains, people often leave their bags and other stuff unattended for longish intervals, maybe to go to the washroom, or to the café several carriages away. On one train journey he noticed his neighbour, “across the aisle and one row up,” disappear “for a good twenty minutes, her bag wide open, a computer peeking out.” He calls the phenomenon “trust.” He writes that all through our social lives we are “in the midst of an almost constant, if subtle, caretaking: “letting someone else go first. Helping with the heavy bags. Reaching what’s too high, or what’s been dropped.” Opening doors for others. He finishes his essay like this. “This caretaking is our default mode and it's always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise. Always."


Book of Delights, essay number 47, “The Sanctity of Trains”


Now I have to tell you that I'm not going to disconnect our garage door monitor nor leave our house unlocked. But you can certainly draw positive conclusions from such a deep trust in the goodness of most people.


Imagine if our first posture before the dignity of others was a defaul