people sometimes came to where I lived, chatted a while, and then suddenly started looking around.

"Hey, where is your tv?" was a frequent question, asked as if a puzzle had been cracked.

When I said I didn't have one (and hadn't since I was a teenager living at home), my visitors looked somewhat perplexed, then looked around again to notice other missing applicances.

I had no stereo, no computer, no microwave - not even an electronic alarm clock.

There was nothing electronic in evidence, except a small dusty cassette player on the shelf.
They questioned me delicately about this absence of "essential items."
Was it an issue of expense? Afterall, I was just getting going in my career.
No, no, I'd try to explain, that wasn't it - I'd had all manner of stuff offered to me when friends upgraded to a bigger set or moved into a new house with a built-in microwave.

I'd always declined because it seemed to me that such electronic additions would disturb the "wah" of my apartment.
(I'd once heard someone use this expression to describe a sense of balance and peace within an environment.)

Thinking back, it was partly the noise.
Both the sound level in general and the types of sound made by electronics.

But my desire to protect myself was broader than that.
Electronics introduced a stream of unfiltered influences.
It seemed impossible to recognize, let alone extract, the positive colorful things from the darkness and violence.
I imagined my apartment having a finite capacity for influences.
I felt I had to guard against the place becoming cluttered.

I now own two computers, two printers, two stereos, a tv, a VCR, and a cellular phone.
I wake up every morning to an electronic buzz.
I have a pager in the watch on my wrist.
The wah of my apartment has, in fact, been disturbed.
The influences in my life are now unfiltered, but they do not float around me like invisible clutter as I imagined they would. Influences unnoticed do seem to melt away.
My movements are faster, more efficient.
I am able to get more done.

I cannot trace the transformation.

I don't remember agreeing to the change.

It happened bit by bit, like a seduction.

A CD player as a birthday gift.

A portable computer coming home from work.

Always the same reaction after getting to know a new electronic appliance - "Wow. This makes things so easy!" and then a growing dependence.

Somewhere along the line I have traded "wah" for efficient and easy.

Most days I am satisfied with the deal.