I am addicted. I’ll be the first to admit it. My computer is like my “precious” (see me lovingly stroking it). I use it to run my business, stay in touch with everyone, or to journal online. It’s my comfort zone. Walking in the door, in the old days it used to be a click of the answering machine button to hear who called; now it’s a click of send/receive to see who emailed.
It’s one thing to use a computer as a necessary and pleasurable tool. It’s another when it begins sucking time from your day. One minute I’m doing something important, the next I’m googling where mosquitoes go in winter…
Of course, I was so immersed I didn’t notice how far I was getting drawn in… until suddenly it was gone.
Well, not exactly suddenly. The right third of my screen started getting fuzzy. I tried to ignore it (like the cold coming on you deny because you don’t want to deal with it.) But I finally, reluctantly, sent it off to Toshiba to get fixed.
I quickly retrieved my husband’s 10-year-old, 15 pound clunker of a laptop from storage. For the next couple of weeks, I desperately tried to remain in my computer comfort zone, checking emails almost as often (although on two different websites and without my address book), and writing. The thing was so old that it kept overheating and I had to turn it off every 30 minutes to cool down. But like the heroin addict willing to go into the bad neighborhood to get the fix, I was willing to do what it took to get my computer fix.
Finally, I got the call. My computer was ready! I picked it up, greedily snapping open the cover. It worked… for five minutes. Then the screen went blank.
I think this is where my angels had showed up, having a good chuckle. I imagine one asking the other “Do you think she’s over her addiction yet?” The other, watching me desperately shaking the computer trying to get the screen to work again, saying with a sigh “Nah… let’s send it back until she’s ready.”
That’s when I finally learned my lesson. After much cursing, I finally had to sit back and surrender. The computer went away for another two weeks, but this time I did it differently.
Instead of journaling in my online document, I pulled out my old spiral and started curling up in a chair and writing. Or sitting under the trees. Instead of checking email ten times a day, I checked online twice a day. Instead of feeling overly responsible to answer every email in depth and on time, I actually skipped some that were not high priority and made my responses shorter. Rather than barreling through a new website that needed more time to percolate, I paused. And instead of getting sidetracked with Facebook, I got sidetracked with… life.
Sometimes what we want least is what we need most. It was an uncomfortable but necessary wake up call for me. I still am quite fond of my little metal gadget. But I’m more mindful of when it’s adding to my life and when it’s time to close the lid… and open the door.
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Pearls for reflection: With loving compassion, notice what form of technology is most alluring to you? Spend a day or a week noticing how you interact with it. What would be a small change you could make that would add energy to your life rather than drain it? What concrete step can you take today?
Oh, I know that my efforts to remain on top of things, I have added technology patterns to my life that have become a habit and undoubtedly an addiction. I had a hard drive crash of my primary computer (a big desktop with two monitors, keyboard, graphics tablet, 4 external hard drives…). For a few months before that I bemoaned the fact that I felt tied to that darn thing, sitting in my home office, I wanted the freedom that my laptop provided me (although it didn’t have ALL the data and software I use and need access to, it requires saving files to a travel drive in order for it to be a desktop replacement). Anyway, with the crash, I was forced to use the laptop and my phone more heavily, not having each access to software and files that I wanted.
What this DID do was show me what freedom felt like, the portable lifestyle of living with a laptop, going to coffee shops or out on my back patio to do my work. I learned that freedom is important to me but so is using the best tool for greatest efficiency. I had my freedom, but I was using a set of tools that took much longer than my desktop computer did. I learned that I needed to step into appreciation that I had a comfortable well-planned out office space with my desktop computer at the heart of it, and that rather than resisting that space, I could appreciate it.
and that when I craved freedom, it was not going to come from taking a computer and a phone to another part of the house or a coffee shop, but would involve me stepping outside in bare feet and feeling the sun and the fresh air and taking my dog for a walk. Using colored pencils and a sketch pad to do my idea planning, rather than trying to do it with technology (and take longer, to boot). Now that my desktop is back in action, I feel that I am balancing my technology time much better, though still have a way to go. thank you, Carolyn, for modeling the possibilities for me.
Yes, sometimes just shaking things up a bit is all we need. Thanks for your fresh perspective and sharing your shift, Liz.