Frank Langley, a Brit who worked on NASA’s Gemini Program and now lives on St. John, has created an annual arts festival to help islanders remember what they are losing, year by year, as more and more Northerners flock here to find solace from their ever-accelerating clock, only to establish that very same clock in Paradise. This is not such a new insight, but today my own mind seems to have become a battleground for the rival experiences of time. I thought it would be a minor adjustment to unplug from the internet, in obediance to the decrepit equipment at Maho Bay Camps. But yesterday and last night I found myself laid low by a killer headache after trying to get a few e-mail tasks done that I thought I couldn’t delay. It might have been the normal tension headaches I give myself occasionally, but this one seemed to suggest withdrawal pains, as if the part of my mind that plugs into a fast DSL connection in Denver nearly all day long was going through detox. It sounds silly, but I’m actually kind of spooked by it, to think that I have become addicted to the rhythms of the internet. If I moved to St. John, which I am not considering, I would insist on the fastest internet connection available. I would be part of the acceleration of time that Frank Langley worries about.
I am filing this blog entry from St. Thomas, in an idyllic stone-walled, fan-cooled internet cafe with an ethernet connection for the Vaio, but the reaction time is still slow. I wait for more than 200 e-mails to come across from the server, knowing I need to leave soon in order to make the ferry back to St. John. I have no resolution for island time versus internet time. The only idea that has occurred to me is to take on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday internet discipline, leaving four days a week unplugged. But this sort of rigidity seems lame, like an alcoholic setting up some silly limit on his drinking to prove to himself he doesn’t have a problem. It’s a muddle.