MWD: Transformation

My Month of Written Devotion is for the Spirit of the Santa Clara Valley


Although one of the names for the Santa Clara Valley, and thus my Lady, is “Silicon Valley”, I do not feel that the spirit of Silicon Valley is the same as my Lady. There’s another spirit here, a spirit that is less bound to the land itself, and more to what it symbolizes.

Maybe it’s a face of my Lady that I don’t love the same way.

I know Silicon Valley every bit as well, but He’s colder, more wry, less loving, wittier. Where my Lady does have teeth that may slowly grind you down if need be, the Lord of Silicon Valley has sharp, carnivore’s teeth that will rip you to shreds in moments if He has the whim.

Where my Lady is patient, usually calm, and attentive, the Silicon Lord is impatient, easily bored, and easily distracted.

He’s also brilliant, of course, and in constant motion. And my, but He is certainly a trickster, an illusionist giving with one hand, taking away with the other, changing the shells far too fast for most to keep track.

Am I projecting? Oh, some. I’m surrounded, after all, it’s only natural I’d see my reflection in some of these mirrored surfaces.

But more, I am describing what has become of my Valley as it has progressed, sometimes steadily, sometimes in fits and starts, from growing good food, to growing information technology.

I’ve watched the orchards, which were already falling away when I was born, all but disappear entirely, in favor of taller and wider buildings with mirrored sides. Where there are no longer sunflowers harvested, there are instead little companies. Little companies that hope to someday become – or be subsumed for a worthy fee into – big companies. Big companies that become huge and unwieldy and crumble under their own weight, or rot out from within. Small companies that never quite sprout enough to reach for the sun.

I am sure my Dad knows exactly how many tech startups he has helped create, launch, sell, or watched die. I know he knows exactly how many hardware chip design patents are his. I spent too many afternoons wandering lost in grey cubicle farms staring uncomprehendingly at whiteboards covered with boxes and arrows and baffling equations. Sometimes I drew flowers for them in the corners, when there was room.

My Mom mostly avoided the startups in favor of larger, more stable companies with better benefits and more tolerance for the necessary absences of a single mother. But that didn’t stop her from constant anxiety at who was buying who, who was being laid off, whether the software expertise she held today would still be of any value tomorrow.

My Dad escaped the sterile valley into the mountains, where he has land large enough to grow grapevines.

My Mom has stayed on the same quarter acre, and has let her California Native garden go wild.

Me? I have degrees in Network Programming and Religious Studies. I worked tech support during the .com boom, for a startup internet company that went public while I was there and died shortly after I left. I was often the only one in earshot neither cheering when our stock went up briefly, nor sorrowing when it inevitably fell back down.

Now I spend my days alternating between talking to and through machines and caring for people and spirits – often both at once. The Machines have spirits too, after all, and why would we have them if they did not serve the needs of the people. The needs, the desires, the whims… the greed.

I’m not afraid of technology by any means. But I grow weary of it sometimes.

There always both here, my eternal Lady and Her younger, trickier Lord.

I love Her unreservedly, with all my heart, from Her green and golden hills to Her pebbled creeks to Her salty wetlands by the bay.

I’m ambivalent about Him. He’s a trickster through and through, and He has brought me as much sorrow as joy, and perhaps more, over my life. But whatever His faults, He is just as Mine as She is.


P.S. Read Lon’s “Transformation”! 😀