Friday, just as the clock rolled from 6:59am to 7, my computer spontaneously turned off and attempted to restart. It failed and wouldn’t turn back on. Now it sits in the back of an Apple store, presumably surrounded by beeping life support machines.
I’m writing this on a loaner and the daily updates of links to the home page just isn’t happening. It’ll be a few days before the parts even arrive at the Apple store, so it’ll be a while before that comes back.
That also means that the requests from clients on Friday didn’t get satisfied. Unlike the link updates, though, that can’t wait until I’m working off my regular box and so I’ll do my best to work efficiently without all my regular software until I return to my old routine.
Scratch that. Until I start a new routine with the elements of my old routine, but a better focus.
It’s been an unexpected blessing to be out of commission. Sort of like those days when illness takes you out of the battle front and you find yourself luxuriously wallowing in bed and guilt, with physical complaints but without the usual weight of duties. My computer’s ill, not me, but it’s the same small anxiety that things aren’t being done alongside the same guilty pleasure in getting nothing done. Since it’s not my body on the fritz, I’ve gotten a monumental amount of other things done – the area around the house has been cleaned up from the mess left by the contractors, for example. So, with the small anxiety and the small guilty pleasure, there’s the flush of success in taking care of things that needed attention but weren’t getting it.
This gentle life lesson is bearing other fruit within me. My meditation this morning was a blitz of pleasure and happiness. I felt the illusory nature of things, I saw that in my mindfulness I was confusing myself with mundanity. I found new relationships with the inanimate and others, a new immediacy during a flush of outlandish visions that brought home some of the understanding I’ve felt at the periphery of consciousness. That sounds strange I’m sure, but I can only say that my efforts are edging me toward enlightenment or slowly lowering a rope for me into madness. Is there a difference? When responsible citizenship bears parallels to the symptoms of mental illness exhibited by zoo animals, perhaps not.
Am I saying I’m glad my computer broke? No, of course not.
What I am saying is that I needed it to break. I needed to step out of my routine so that I could re-address my lingering questions of physical health, of diet, of home maintenance. I needed to reduce the mental significance I was giving to work, to improve the energy around my house by addressing the clutter, and to look at the relationship between the tools I use and the work I do. I needed to look again at the ancient lures of addiction that rise up when my regular productivity is impossible.
The breaking of my computer is a most gentle life lesson, a reminder of some of the stuff I learned when my loved ones had significant health issues and to a lesser degree of the lessons involved in my own personal health struggles. It is about the kindest way for me to remember the wider perspective, the bigger game plan, and the important difference between routine mindfulness and mindfulness in an entirely unexpected set of circumstances.
Coming off the backend of my wife’s recovery from her fairly severe illness, the gentleness of this reminder is significant. As soon as she was better, I returned to attending to the same things in the same way. Not so, said the universe or God or circumstance, let me clarify. In that sequence, I understand – had this happened when everything was running smoothly, I would have perhaps thought it was a big deal, perhaps had a lot of stress and coping mechanism flare-ups over it. From where I stand right now, though, it’s not even close to a big deal.
We, you and I, will be corrected time and again through the happenstance of life. And that is the nature of these things, they are corrections. It doesn’t matter whether they arise from our own consciousness, the infinite consciousness, or purely through the chaos. Because it doesn’t matter where we draw the lines between those things, all such lines are simply mental constructs that intrinsically bear the limitations of human intelligence. When we acknowledge the falseness of our categorizations and definitions, we retreat to humbleness before that single great unfoldment, the great mystery before and within us.
So, today I am grateful that my course correction this time is gentle, without severity or deep distress. An inconvenience that alters the way I live for a time, it emerges as a call to change the way I live and readjust my priorities and perspectives once again. A prayer of unspoken gratitude floats upward and sinks within me, that I needed but gentle prodding this time.
What small problems do you have that you might be grateful for today? Do you have an argument with your spouse, a friend, or a colleague at work? Are you being called to action in ways you didn’t expect, ways that you’re not immediately inclined to fulfill but that ultimately would make you a better person? Are major tools, like your computer, car, or house calling for attention? Do you have a mild physical ailment?
Take action on them and be grateful for the mildness of the lesson. When we don’t address the small corrections, they rear up again and again in increasing severity until we get it.
Thank you so much for reading, and may your own course corrections be gentle also.
- The Corner of Waiting Boulevard & Patience Street
- 5 Tactics When Everything Needs Attention
- The Limits of Self Improvement
- Failing on Purpose: Shark Mountain
- Three Weapons Against Addiction
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