Downtime

My computer is dying. It freezes, it crashes, it’s been in the repair shop twice already. There’s likely no resuscitating it. At the moment it only limps along and hangs onto life by a slender thread. I need to save the draft of this post after each sentence in case it crashes again, so that I can continue writing from Mom’s laptop.

The last couple of weeks have been a gigantic balancing act for me. Not being able to save documents easily means no typing out stories…which puts a greater emphasis on writing with a pen than ever before; I’m more viscerally involved in my craft and spending more time in my writing room. Not having the internet every minute of the day means not as much websurfing and the time I do get to spend online is limited to the essentials like Facebook and email…which means there’s more time for reading and writing; I’m being slightly more productive with my days and it’s easier to keep the one-hour-of-writing-a-night schedule I recently imposed on myself.

In short, while I’m tearing my hair out over not having my digital life at my fingertips, I’m also starting to realize the role it plays in my real life. One intertwines with the other to such an extent that when it gets uprooted it can easily steal something more valuable at the same time. Like sanity. I’m not a Luddite by any means, nor necessarily a prophet of doom when it comes to the digital age (as long as you don’t get me started on e-books), but it begins to worry me that our society is growing ever more dependent on technology which is not only fragile but also incredibly adept at making itself obsolete within a matter of months, not years. Computers can be powerful tools, but do they really make life easier? Or do they just come with a new set of headaches? And what happens when the plug gets pulled?

I won’t be able to get a new computer until the new year. Hopefully sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, I am slowly learning to appreciate the lifestyle of the tactile. Not just of writing by hand, but of listening to music off a CD player again and needing to open that case, take out that disc, press the play button and hear the whirring as it starts up. It’s probably no coincidence that I find myself contemplating buying a typewriter and even getting the few people I know who have a turntable to let me hear what a vinyl record sounds like. I have an epistolary novel to write, and I’m toying with the idea of making it a very literal collection of letters (complete with envelopes).

When I do get my hands on a new computer, I will be a very happy person indeed. But I hope that it won’t be the only thing I’ll have my hands on. A new perspective on what really matters, for one thing. A stronger discipline in how I spend my time, for another. And a renewed sense that if I want to decrease my dependency on things that are going to continuously let me down, I need to stop making them matter so much. It’s good to occasionally turn the power off and have a little downtime.

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