I think I am going to buy a houseplant and name it Ned. I realized I needed a houseplant after my internet stopped working a few hours ago, and there was nobody around to talk to.

Definitely, a houseplant named Ned. Actually, I think I will buy a bunch of houseplants and name them all Ned. It will be almost like a forest named Ned. And one cactus. For that touch of diversity that so enhances group dynamics.

I have a lot of things to tell Ned, once I buy them. Because I think Ned will be a good listener. I also hope Ned will have an interest in marine mammals, because I have noticed that there are not many conversations that welcome facts about whales. One misplaced fact about whales and most conversations fall flat. (Which may be why Herman Melville felt so pressed to write Moby Dick, and at such length. Imagine having that much whale information in you and nowhere to air it. Well, that will certainly not be my predicament after I get back from Home Depot.)

But mostly I will talk to Ned about the word "in."

People use the word "in" about all kinds of things, and I can accept that some of them are somewhat abstract. For example, you can be: In a tizzy. In cahoots. In a pickle. In sync.

In none of these phrases does the word "in" mean quite the same thing as it does in a more easily illustrated phrase such as "in a manhole." But I am accepting of people saying all of these things. I am in charge. I am in trouble. I am in awe.

Sometimes there is an either/or situation – People use the word "in" about all kinds of things, and some of them are somewhat abstract. For example, you can be: In a tizzy. In cahoots. In a pickle. In sync. you are either in one thing, or in another. For example, if you are in an ocean, and you are not in a boat, you are in a predicament. (Unless you are a whale. And did you know that a large car can fit in the mouth of a blue whale?)

Other times, you can be in a lot of things at once. For example, you can be in a rush and in a car. It is frequently done.

Less frequently, you can be in a blue whale's mouth, and in a predicament.

The thing that makes me think twice is when people say things like "let me get into Gmail" or "I'm in the document." (The person I primarily hear saying things like "I am in Gmail" is, sadly, myself. But no longer.)

Since my internet stopped working, my eyes have been opened. Like a baby bird shoved out of its nest, I wandered around at first, stumbling over the furniture, fingering the spines of books and wondering what to do with them. I folded laundry. I took a sniff of outdoor air and predicted rain.

And I now know that Gmail – and likewise Facebook, and the entire world wide web – is not real! Gmail and Facebook may be useful and interactive, but they are actually just flat images. It is a mistake to try to inhabit virtual reality. Virtual reality is too arid for residency.

Which is why the need for a houseplant is so obvious to me. A real, live plant. A houseplant that can potentially be eaten by aphids, or salvaged with loving care. A houseplant that, if I purchase it in plural, I can sit among.

One of the main attractions of the holiday of Sukkot is the mitzvah of being in a sukkah – a fragrant, splintery, temporary sort of thing to be in. Other mitzvot are lovely, but it is not possible to be in them. Only a sukkah surrounds and envelops.

Maybe I'll bring Ned in with me. We'll listen to whale recordings on my laptop.