On this past Saturday, my laptop failed. It was late enough in the day—and the weekend for that matter—that I couldn’t get help. All kinds of thoughts quickly flooded my mind: What about all that I need to do this weekend? Have I lost everything I’ve created since the last backup (which was about a month ago)? How bad is the damage? How much is this going to cost me?
Two days in the repair shop and a new hard drive later, I just got back my PC. I can’t begin to express how incredibly grateful I am that my files were recovered, even if I need to reinstall some programs and play catch-up on my week. As a backup to my external hard drive is running right now, I’d like to share 5 life lessons I’ve gleaned from this untimely technical mishap.
I had a busy week all mapped out, including some tasks to be done this past weekend. The untimely demise of my hard drive messed up my plans. Then again, is there ever a good time for these things? Technical failures aside, how often does life present us with unexpected timeouts to which we have to adjust, if only kicking and screaming at times? Some of these timeouts are rather benign—including computer problems, annoying as they are—while others are significant life-changing events—e.g., being laid off from a job, sustaining severe injuries from an accident, or the sudden death of a loved one.
Often times, much of our suffering comes from unmet expectations and foiled hopes and dreams. The more we’re attached to specific pictures our lives must match—including the who’s, when’s and how’s—the more we feel the burn when our reality deviates from those pictures. My most recent computer failure reminded me to remain flexible in order to ride the waves of life. It’s good to have plans and a clear direction, but it’s for our own good to remain flexible in the event of unexpected derailment. If there’s one guarantee in life, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Lesson #2: Do the precise thing we’re too busy to do
How often do we hear that we must do the precise thing we don’t have time to do? I remember that, recently, in the back of my mind, I thought my computer was overdue for a backup. However, I was too busy to interrupt what I was doing to backup my files. Having almost lost what I had created in the past month, I’ll remember that the busier I am, the more there is to be protected. This lesson actually applies to other areas of our lives as well. What are we ignoring by being so busy that we might run the risk of losing or compromising? Health? Relationships?
Lesson #3: Don’t use work as an emotional hideout or distraction
In modern life, there are perhaps only two legally and socially acceptable forms of addiction: caffeine and work. In fact, in many parts of the U.S., I’d go as far as to say that workaholism is lauded and even expected. For many, work not only funds our livelihood, it also is one of the few areas in our lives over which we have the most control. As a result, we unconsciously resort to busying ourselves with work to distract us from facing what we don’t want to face in our lives.
For a long time, I was in denial about being a workaholic. I couldn’t be one of them! After all, I had a life outside of work and really hated the long hours I used to log during my Corporate America days. However, being a workaholic extends beyond the sheer number of hours worked to how much we source our identity and emotional security from what we do for a paycheck. So, quite reluctantly, I eventually had to concede that I’m a recovering workaholic. That also means that, when I’m not mindful, it’s really easy to crave that old security blanket.
On this past Saturday, I had to run an errand that was surprisingly emotional; I wasn’t prepared for what was stirred within me. When I got home, even though I immediately wrote in my journal to process the experience, I was eager to get to the work I had planned to do over the weekend—except my computer failed. Apparently, the Universe wanted to remind me that I didn’t need to revert back to using work as an emotional safe haven away from what I didn’t want to feel. The synchronicity of the “untimely” computer failure wasn’t lost on me.
Lesson #4: Opportunity or problem: It’s a matter of perspective
Technical failures stink. However, I also quickly realized that I had a choice in how to react to the situation. I could stew in the frustration of how that messed up what I needed to do, or I could see the time that has been unexpectedly opened up as a cosmic gift. Either way, my original plans weren’t going to be; how would I like to respond? I opted to see the technical mishap as an opportunity. Before the computer failure, I was going to pass on my usual Sunday nature walk because of the work I had planned on doing. But, with my computer on strike, I did that walk and enjoyed a beautiful, sunny fall afternoon out in fresh air at one of my favorite nature spots on earth. I also had the luxury of some extra time to read and to tend to personal projects, and I even leisurely watched some TV that I otherwise wouldn’t have had time to do.
Besides, this experience gave me an opportunity to feel extra gratitude to my big brother, who gave me his unwanted iPad last year. It enabled me to mostly stay on top of email and even somewhat keep up with social networking in the 4 days I was without my computer. Besides, as I continue to hear about the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, my loss of time and productivity is further put into its proper perspective. Perspective is always up to us.
Lesson #5: We may not always have what we want, but we always have what we need
Recently, I’ve been contemplating a lot on how easy it is to take so much for granted. I’m guilty of that for sure, no matter how much I strive to be conscious of the blessings and grace appearing before my eyes every day. With this latest hard drive failure, it made me realize how much easier my laptop has made my life day in and day out. Not having that for 4 days really crystallized that realization. But, even as inconvenient as life was without it, having my PC is a want, not a need by a long shot. It’s a cosmic reminder that even if life doesn’t always include experiences of what we want when we want them, we’re rarely denied what we truly need.
So, there you have it, life lessons gleaned from my hard drive failure, which turns out to be a reminder to keep in perspective my “hard drive” tendency.
Would love to know if any of these 5 life lessons resonates with you. Please share in the comment box below before you leave here today.
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