Friday, September 3, 2010

The Death of Technology Awakens Life

A few days ago, my much-loved computer died. Well...maybe it isn't completely dead, but so called reliable sources from the Geek Squad and local computer shop prepared me for the reality of the situation. The hard drive is history. This is the first time since 1998 that I have been without computer access.

I detest "woe is me" stories. I will try to make this brief. I am currently unemployed, so dashing out and replacing my computer is not an option. The crash of my computer was completely unexpected, so I was faced with a certain feeling of disempowerment, or more appropriate; hopelessness.

As a writer, I know the significance of backing everything up, which I do on an external hard drive and I have a few flash drives kicking around. The good news is that I did not lose my novel, memoir and many photos. Although the latest drafts of the novel are not there, fortunately they are not major and I guess I was meant to revisit those areas.

I must admit, I was spiraling into a deep, dark pit. I hadn’t felt like this for a long time. This came on the heels of releasing my two younger (grown) children back into the wild, after a good solid month of being together. It’s a healthy thing, a part of life that surely every mother must face and sometimes that means more than once. It had been a long time since I was blessed with the sounds of Mozart and Bach and the others being played brilliantly on the violin at all hours. No matter how logical and balanced I am, I knew that the nest would be empty once again, and that is the way it’s supposed to be. I expected the separation anxiety and know that to be a mother (for me) means that I will experience the maternal joys and disappointments associated with the process. Like all of life, it ebbs and flows.

So, how did I deal with a seemingly dead computer? I allowed the whole thought of being cut off from the internet and Microsoft word to sink in. I went to the “Potholes” up the road and dove into the ice cold water. Sure it was breathtaking, but somehow I thought that by immersing myself without inching my way in safely, that the shock would miraculously wash away the impending doom. Maybe it was a dive into a fresh approach to everything in my life. My inner world had been rocked; nothing like a plunge into a pristine river to gain clarity.

When I went under, I opened my eyes. The rocks were vibrant; some were huge and smooth. I started to dive down and pick up the ones that caught my eye. Then my son went over to an area that appeared to be a simple rock in the middle of the current. It was about a foot high and water gently cascaded over it and meandered into the deep pool where I swam. He called for me to watch as he disappeared under the water. It was like watching a magician. He came up laughing. In front of that rock, is a somewhat narrow hidden pool. He is about 6’3” and the water was about to his chest.

I could not believe it. I have been swimming in some of the most amazing rivers, lakes and oceans my whole life, but never seen this. He climbed out so that I could give it a shot. I slid into the hole and pushed myself down with my hands. It was an entirely new world. Before going into the hole, I noticed that there was a deeper voice in the river chorus. Being an artist over a scientist, I chose to marvel at the various pitches in the water flow rather than dissect the cause. However, descending into the underwater hole explained it. While I was under water, I looked up at the water pouring over the surface of the small pool. It was deafening. The sky and trees wavered through the lens of the untamed rush of water. It made me laugh and I swallowed a bunch of water. I came up choking and giggling madly. God, I needed that. I went down again. This unusual hiding place in the river was a miracle; a miracle that I needed that day.

Refreshed and relieved, I went home to realize that in order to capture that moment, I had to resort to a pen and paper. I was edgy. This sucked. I needed to fire up my computer and start wailing on the keyboard as fast as I could. But hold on. Was this really so bad? Was my dependency on modern technology so intense? Yes. It was. I faced the hard truth; I was addicted to the ease of writing on my computer.

This was something to ponder. What about all of those who came before me? Am I that removed from them?

I needed to check my email. Because I am a perennial hermitess, it is a requirement for me to live in the woods; therefore, I was suddenly at the mercy of the local libraries and their random hours. I opted to drive forty minutes one way in the morning so that I could combine my computer time with going to the grocery store.

I sat on the porch and looked at the stars. Can I go to the library and write my blogs and queries and op eds and letters and all of that stuff that consumes me? Even chocolate wouldn’t help with this one.

I lay awake and thought, this was meant to happen, I have to spend more time making jewelry and candles to sell. I have to catch up on my reading. I need to play my cello.

When I woke up in the morning I walked into my office and stared at the carcass of my computer. It was time to put it in the case. The shock of the sudden death was starting to transform into anger and betrayal. I always did updates and virus checks. I never took chances of it being zapped by power surges. I kept my drinks far away. I pampered it like a baby and this is what I get?

It was a sweltering 97 degrees. I had to go into that secret hole in the river. I needed a head change.

I practically ran over the rocks to plunge into that magical hole when I hit a wall of pungent smoke. A rather self important, white haired man sat right next to the magic rock reading the newspaper and toking on a fat cigar. Sigh.

I wasn’t in the mood for small talk and certainly was not ready to divulge my secret. I would return to the hole another time.

I spent the evening detaching from my son who was leaving for Boston in the morning. My daughter left a few days before. I have to scream at myself not to be overly doting. I asked him to please, please, please pick up the “bunk room” so that I did not have to go through it. If I go through it, I will be sad. Plus, I have other things to do than pick up after people.

I did well; I gave him some of my homemade blackberry jam and fresh herbs and refrained from exposing my true feelings. My eyes filled with tears and I hugged him hard. He was sweet; he knows how much I appreciated our time together.

He left. I sat on the porch and had a huge meltdown. It was cleansing. I wanted to make sure that whatever feelings were raging around were able to be. I acknowledged them. They are a healthy part of who I am. Now that I was sitting there alone with no link to the outside world, it was time to simply be in the moment, ickiness and all.

I walked over to the vibrant pink phlox and inhaled. What joy! I kicked off my well worn flip flops and walked on the wet grass. Walking barefoot was always a requirement for me; lately I had forgotten and needed that connection with Our Mother. The dragonflies were thick. I noticed a large green one hovering nearby and a small bright red one on a goldenrod. I attached myself to the moment. The clouds were moving fast; it was muggy and the air was heavy with the scent of pine.

I emptied the well inside of me so that I could take in what was around me in that moment. It was liberating. I would not allow a computer to have power over me. The world around me is life waiting.

I went into the bunk room without sadness or a feeling of abandonment. I was grateful for the meaningful experiences that I shared with Shelby and Anna. What a gift. As I was about to turn around and leave the room, I noticed the old laptop that Shelby had left. I worked on it about a month ago; cleaning it up and restoring it. He wasn’t interested in it. Wow. I went into my office and set it up. At this point it is fine. It will work until I am able to replace mine.

I am not certain of what is really lost as far as documents, but I know that the critical documents are intact on the external drive. It doesn’t matter. A piece of equipment makes life easier and is necessary to navigate my world in many ways, however, nothing replaces life; breathing, living, all encompassing life.

It isn’t the experiences that we go through that matters, it is how we react and turn these experiences into opportunities. Missing possibilities is not an option.

I will catch up on my blogs soon.

Have a safe and glorious weekend.

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