Our PC crashed. Yes, it was old; and yes, I’d been expecting it; and yes, I have online backup. However, losing an old computer is a death. Not in the emotional sense (although there is the anger that’s likely to arise reloading everything), but rather in the amount of details. Yes, I have the laptop – so I’m not completely unplugged – but the PC has the four various businesses that run out of this house and the email programs and the Blackboard programs from which we teach classes and the favorites we use to navigate our lives and and and. You know. You have a computer too.
So yesterday was a ten-hour day swallowed by the leviathan.
I was able to do research on the laptop regarding computer towers and so yesterday morning, first thing, I called around and found the one I wanted at Metro North. Now, although Metro North is part of the greater Kansas City city, I’d never been there although I’d passed it on my drives. By the time I returned home, it was noon. And then the great hunt began.
You know the drill: the good news is that we now have Windows 7 as an operating system; the challenge is that it’s so fast that sometimes the pages disappear somewhere else with a careless move of the mouse; so downloading new drivers to match printers and programs happened first and then the slow download of programs we always use – the online dictionary being only the most minor. I looked at Mozy, our online backup, but oh, my, doing the whole thing would have meant sucking down all the demons that lived on the old computer so care and discrimination had to be used. One small piece at a time.
I’m balanced somewhere between Ahab-like behavior, just wanting to get it DONE and killing old files in revenge for the problems in the old computer and Jonah-behavior in trusting the word to go slow. My son Stephen, who is thankfully wise and careful, is the Jonah part of the equation and I more rash like Ahab.
Whales are the unknowable. The metaphor for all that is beyond our capabilities. I don’t really want to end up like Ahab, tied to the beast with ropes and going down with the waves, and yet the task, i.e. getting our lives back on track electronically and caught up with everything that needs doing – classes, banking, email, frustrates my need for simplicity.
We all have our whales. Some months back I began calling computer days times of getting swallowed by the leviathan, but that’s a phrase any of us use could use when getting caught in the demands of life. Harder to wait quietly and see what the task really needs rather than flinging solutions willy-nilly hoping one of them might catch and hold.
So I sat here today and found Ahab’s story online – the tragic hero who for the most part is a reasonable man – but his tragic flaw impatient revenge rather than waiting for the moment and allowing it to come to him; and Jonah’s, who didn’t want to do the job given him (telling Nineveh it was about to be destroyed) and so ran away into the belly of the beast where he had no choice but to wait. And when spit out, decided to do what he was asked.
Peace with the process is an elusive goal and one that has to be practiced over and over. Daily. And so this morning, I’m practicing breathing and being present as I play with words on my laptop. It gives me the place to ponder and to remember. By remembering the process, I can also remember that the rest of it will come together if I refuse to give in to frustration and rush.
Life only ties us up when we struggle too hard.