It's amazing what one can do on autopilot.
Recently I was driving along listening to RNZ, which was broadcasting an interview with Alex Pressman, the seaweed man. He was talking about biology, fungus and the world's food supply. His stats were mind boggling. The world population will equal nine billion by 2050.
In the next 40 years we (human kind) will need to grow the same entire amount of food as we have grown over the last 10,000 years since farming began. In the last 150 years we will have depleted half the top soil in the world. Of course seaweed was the answer.
My internal voice murmured: "WOW, that doesn't sound good" as I indicated to pull back into the left hand lane, between a logging truck and a Ritchies school van, before the passing lane ran out into a bilateral dice with death on SH1.
"Crikey — cauliflowers are $10 a head, the Russians are unleashing nerve gas to heat up the cold war and Jacinda didn't know about the alleged molestation at the Labour Party's party.
That's only a tiny example of what our mind absorbs, cultivates, composts, masticates and regurgitates in a mere 10 seconds.
Some things can completely consume the mind, and for me recently, my preoccupation has been …telcos.
At the start of the year we moved offices, down the corridor, 15m at the most. I cheerfully rang our phone company to order the move. Job done, I naively thought. After weeks of waiting for the cable guy, the front office swung open to reveal the cable guy from hell.
"I down't nu wii iam ere" he half-shouted in a broad Southern English Cornish accent.
"We would like to keep our main line 3406 here to this jack and have our fax line here but only temporarily so we can leave a message on there that it is no longer in use," I said.
He walked past me saying "ere's a fone line ere and ere, but we'res the box?"
He walked out into our landlord's office, pushed half the contents on her desk aside and dived under her desk. After half an hour of bombastic cable talk and no replies to our nervous questions he left. Did our phones work?
Did they hell! Our fax line worked but our mainline didn't. Our main line still doesn't work to this day, despite numerous phone calls and email to our account manager, Preston.
I have coerced, shouted, sworn, flirted, cried, scratched and kicked to absolutely no avail. It's become all-consuming.
"Come on Jonny, get a grip on yourself," my inner voice heedlessly lectured me.
Now funnily enough, Gary who was leasing office space upstairs, had moved into our old office.
"How the move going Gary?" I inquired. "It would be OK if the bloody phones worked," he replied.
"They're spectacular aren't they?" I concurred bitterly. "It's been a month now, I'm paying two lots of office rent because my phones won't work. I can't think about anything else," he spat.
"I keep on talking to a guy called Preston who assures me he has made an 'escalation'." Gary walked off shaking his head as he rounded the corner.
I am not alone. A comforting thought, but I really need to shake myself out of this
Enough rumination on the phone company or any of the First World problem pettiness that can easily overtake the mind — it's not worth the angst — but what's the alternative?
Going back to the maelstrom of future global issues, local produce prices and geopolitics repeating history?
The answer is mindfulness. If you can train your mind to be a tranquil observer of things going on around you one can find calm.
To borrow and modify Ruby Wax's analogy in her book Sane New World, picture your mind as a bottle of clear water with seaweed at the bottom.
When it's agitated by thoughts or feelings, it's as if you've shaken the bottle — the seaweed writhe and the water is now opaque.
When you hold the bottle still, the seaweed settles, just as your mind settles when you watch thoughts rather than reacting to them.
As Alex Pressman would say, the answer is in the seaweed. Alternatively one could plug one's phone into the right jack! Oops.
Stephen Hawking died after I wrote this. He was the best example of a disabled person adding value. David Seymour's Euthanasia Bill would call his impairment a "grievous condition that is irreparable". The rest of the world would disagree.
■ Jonny Wilkinson is the CEO of Tiaho Trust — Disability A Matter of Perception, a Whangarei-based advocacy organisation.