Crashed + Renewed | Sometimes Systems Unexpectedly Fail

by | Nov 16, 2016

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And it’s a good thing.
(I wrote this post in February, as a journal entry for myself, really, and resurrected it not long ago. I found the message I elicited in an everyday irritating loss one so many of us could perhaps take solace in, put to action.)

This year, my two-year-old computer crashed. I received very little warning. My late night Netflix binges were running a bit sluggishly, yes. My booting time left moments to be desired, ok, but I suspected no upcoming foul play from within my computer. I had to drop an entire day – Sunday no less – to take my computer to the Apple “Genius Bar”, which grossly overestimates its own intelligence. They don’t actually serve alcohol at this technological saloon where they dispense bad news daily like tequila shots passed around on a busy Saturday night…without the tequila. Through their efficient system, however, I did learn swiftly that my hard drive wasn’t dying, it was dead. I surrendered my computer that day, which was much like having my house and all of its belongings seized with no warning. I went home with a prognosis of regaining my rebuilt computer within 36 hours. I made a quick tally of the work that had been lost in the week and a half since I’d last backed up my computer, which felt like enumerating all the items that had been stolen in a burglary, and then I decided to face plant that evening on the couch and abandon my stress and lack of control over the situation. It had been an exceptionally trying few months for me, and turning off for an evening was the best way to cope.

When I awoke the next morning I was renewed. I supplanted all my usual computer time – this was a Monday work day after all – with overdue in-person meetings. I recorded ideas and next steps memos in a borrowed iPad. I purged some creative writing ideas in a legal pad notebook. In short, these things happen, and I found ways to get it done and also recreate the system. I had to surrender to my situation, but I did not have to cede my productivity. Instead, what actually transpired was a refreshing rush of creativity because I was forced to break a staid habit of long days staring at a computer screen. I had to find other platforms to record my work. Days later, with my computer regained, I was a bit elated at the situation. I still had to meet deadlines, and I did – just in more creative ways. I’d been feeling a bit stagnant when I opened my computer and stared at the screen each day. This is something I do countless times a week, and sometimes I just don’t know where to start anymore. Opening my computer was becoming attached to a feeling of dead-endedness.

If you’re a Deepak Chopra fan (or a scientist or medical practitioner) you’re likely somewhat familiar with the concept of neural pathways and our ability to create and break habits and associations with strong will and recurring effort. Habits actually inhabit a part of the brain, and thoughts conjured over and over come to resemble habits in our brain. My thoughts towards my computer were a stew of lack of clarity and stress, and it was a symbol of my lack of freedom, my prison from using my hands more and just being with people.

Sometimes our systems – any kind of systems – unexpectedly “crashing” can aid us in creating new associations, habits and neural pathways to productivity. It causes us to seek answers outside of the familiar ones. We become broader; we suddenly are more cavernous and therefore have more space to invite alternative concepts and ideas in. And that’s just what happened when my computer crashed – I felt renewed. There are systems crashing around the world right now, and we’ve an opportunity to create new ones and rejuvenate what was lost – on sturdier, more loving ground.