Five days ago my computer died. Like most mornings, I went downstairs, turned on the tea kettle, and opened the lid of my laptop. The screen was blank. I closed the lid and opened it again, because, on occasion, my computer decides not to wake immediately up. Another blank screen greeted me. I hit some keys. Nothing. I held down the power button. No sound. The screen was still blank. I tried it again with the same result. That’s when it occurred to me, my computer had reached the end of its seven year life.
Everything is on my computer. Well, not everything, but there’s more than seven years of photos on it, two complete and at least three partial book manuscripts, countless poems and other writings, and all of my business files. Strangely enough, I didn’t panic when I realized I had a lifeless computer before me. Instead, I went outside and drew in the beauty of the day before me. The sky was blue after the previous evening’s storms, and as my eyes followed the sun streaked trees around my swimming pool, I saw a goldfinch.
I rarely see goldfinches in my yard. We don’t have a feeder, and we get a number of birds, but goldfinches are a rare sight. As I looked at the bird wearing feathers that seemed to mirror the light of the sun, I was filled with a sense that everything would be okay. Soon, one of our resident hummingbirds appeared and she and the goldfinch danced up into the trees. Joy filled my being. How bold this tiny bird was, I thought, chasing after the sun.
Perhaps, I thought, my day would be better spent away from the screen. I also knew nothing, in essence, was really lost. Even if by some strange circumstance the ephemeral “cloud” that stores my computer’s data had also disappeared, and my portable backup was empty, I still had all I needed.
I never bothered to check the cloud, and took two days to check the backup unit. It was oddly and wonderfully freeing, in many ways, not to be tied to the data of this electronic device that was frequently a large part of my daily routine. Sure, I eventually checked my email and social media on my phone. A day or two later, I logged into an even older laptop to start working on some flyers for upcoming yoga classes (since I discovered I had not actually backed up my computer in at least eight months), and wrote a blog post .
Each time I had a fleeting worry that something I needed may have been lost, a solution seemed to rise above it and overpower it with truth. I somehow remembered passwords I hadn’t used in years, and discovered I had written down others. The same day I wrote a blog post, I also decided to change the name of my blog. An idea that I had been contemplating for many months decided to press its way into reality. Instead of contemplating the how, I followed the path of clues before me, and in a matter of minutes I discovered I had, in fact, successfully and nearly effortlessly, changed the name of my blog to one that felt more in resonance with my truth, and, at the same time, affordably upgraded my WordPress plan. My blog, like my computer, had felt near the end of its life. Each time I would upload a new photo I would wonder if it would be the one that would exceed the ever- approaching limit of storage.
Now, in front of me, I had “The Light Behind the Story,” with an enhanced capacity to hold words and images. And, I had somehow accomplished this on a computer that should have been dead by now.
Last night, after we took our daughter out to dinner (my son was at an amusement park with friends), she drove us to the mall so we could browse the selection of computers at the electronics store. By now my husband had drawn the conclusion that my motherboard must be fried. Likely, he thought, due to the storms that occurred during the night of my computer’s demise. I was not wholly convinced that it was
my the storm’s fault, even though I had left the laptop on and plugged into the surge protector, which also held my phone and watch. They had faired fine. As had every other electronic still plugged into our home’s energy source. Not even the clocks had flickered. “You’re computer is old, though,” my husband insisted. Seven years didn’t seem that old to me…
So, here we were, browsing the latest and greatest computers with my eager daughter. She has a significant birthday coming up, which happens to be near Christmas, so there has been talk of her getting a laptop as well. A kind and knowledgable tech offered to take us through the basics, and I allowed myself to sweep into the marvels of the technology before me. The displays were impressive, to say the least. The capability of the machines before me much greater than the one that now appeared to be dead.
After perhaps ten minutes, we thanked our gracious host and continued on our way. And, as we did, I found my mind not lingering upon what we had left behind. It didn’t matter if I had one of those new units that day, next week, or years from now. I knew I would enjoy it (although I was sure not to its fullest capacity), but it was not an essential component to my being.
On the ride home, my daughter drove us to one more stop so we could buy two rose bushes, one yellow and one purple, that I had seen earlier in the day. They were half-price and my husband did not want to miss the opportunity. It took mere minutes. The roses, side-by-side, were where I had remembered them, in the midst of hundreds of others. As we continued our drive home, I thought about the roses and not about the computers left behind at the store, or the one dead at home. The vision of my late summer garden filled the canvas of my mind, and I picked through the weeds and looked for open spots where the beauty of new life would enhance the landscape.
When we arrived back home, I lifted the roses out of the car and nestled them in for the night on our front porch beside the mums I had purchased earlier in the day. “Well look at that!” my husband declared as he unlocked the dogs, “All three of them are here to greet us.” Eagerly awaiting our arrival, were our two dogs, Rosy and Zelda, along with Millie, our no-longer-a-kitten-but-still-very-spoiled-cat. I had hesitated making the brief stop for the roses on the ride home, worried that the sky was fast-darkening as I wondered if Millie had made her way indoors yet.
As I got out the sliced turkey to feed the well-trained pets their treat, my husband rushed down to shut the cat door and give Yoda, our 12-year-old cat-who-doesn’t-like-the-dogs-or-turkey, some cat treats. After everyone was settled, I turned on the TV to watch an episode of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” while my husband got out some tools to open the body of my dead laptop.
I barely noticed his tinkering beside me as I watched my show. Glancing, once or twice with indifference at the insides that held the memories of the past seven years and more. A couple of times I heard my husband blow air through puckered lips into the circuits, while fleeting thoughts of snacks consumed as I typed passed through my mind.
I didn’t notice when the insides had been put back inside the shell, or when the lid had been lifted. Instead, I was snuggled into my blanket enjoying the scene playing out on another screen.
My tired eyes moved over to the space beside me where my dead computer was now very much alive upon my husband’s lap. It’s familiar face coming back into focus.
“It was pretty dirty. It must have been all the dust. Maybe something got disconnected…” The moment seemed surreal, and oddly plausible at the same time. I was surprised, but I wasn’t, just like my husband seemed to be, as I realized this problem, that had never in fact really been a problem, was now fixed. The how and why a mystery that really didn’t need to be solved.
And, so here I am the next morning, typing away on my not-dead-computer as I sip the last of my morning’s tea. Halfway through writing this post, my son came downstairs and I paused to talk to him, and, during our conversation, let our excited dogs outside. In my distraction of catching up with my son, I barely noticed the barking, until it grew instead of ceased. Annoyance began to build as I followed my son to the window to see what the fuss was all about.
“It’s a deer!” my son announced in audible awe. There, before us, was a magnificent doe, mere feet from the fence where our two dogs were barking away at it. Completely unfazed as it munched away at the fallen apples below the tree.
Miraculously, the dogs left the deer for the promise of treats, and I closed the door and returned to the window with my son to marvel at the gift before us. The deer stayed for several minutes, looking at us through the window, then back to the apples before her. She was in no rush as she ate her fallen breakfast, unfazed by our presence, just has she had been by our barking dogs. Unfazed by my voice talking through the open window. “Aren’t you beautiful,” I told her. “Go ahead. Eat the apples. Aren’t you beautiful!”
Like the goldfinch, hummingbird, and the roses, the deer now before me was another symbol of life. Real life. An immeasurable gift. Her presence not separate, but a part of the greater dance that joins us all. The dogs, my son, myself, and all that surrounds us. It had been more than worth the pause in the writing of this post on my newly revived computer. This call to pause and engage in the flow of joy that is life.