It’s been about a month since the beginning of the latest siege on my computer and everything that goes with it. The third in about a year and a half. Each time it’s defense then fortify defenses. Do I even have an offensive tool? keep breathing…
I do have a son who’s one of those professional wizards, but I must first confess. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for me to maintain any sense of equanimity, balance or peace when it comes to computer / internet maladies. At one point I had actually had the audacity to consider myself somewhat computer savvy. After all, I was the first H.R. Director to create a Department H.R. web page and it was in the computer science department. It’s different these days. In fact, I told my son that I would rather die than have to go through cleaning and fixing my computer again. It just kind of popped out. He’s laughing so hard one might think I was being paid to humor him. He finally gasps “you should write a blog about it Mom”. Now who’s trying to be funny? That was three rescue calls ago. Should I be paranoid?
Maybe yes, maybe no. I’m more mature now and I continue to prepare for my last great adventure of this life. Do I still prefer death to computer problems? I had been on-line for an hour, simultaneously by phone and internet, with the ISP and e-mail help geeks when that thought first went through my mind. My eye sighted on the Post-It note permanently affixed to the edge of the desk top on which my computer monitor seduces. It’s a quote from one of our contemporary American Gods (ala “American Gods by Neil Gaimen) who, one day, may be declared a prophet. One of my own spiritual guides, Master Jedi Yoda. And the note says:
‘Train Yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
Death And I Are Already Friends
And my “One Year To Live Experiment” certainly helped me let go of a lot. But this quote stuck with me and in the midst of the current computer snafu, I considered ‘can I let it go?’ I don’t have to read all the fascinating articles and perspectives available on the web. I don’t have to shop on-line. I only text under duress, so that’s no loss. But e-mail, and instant pictures of grandchildren, and MinfulDying.com? Definitely a firm hold on these, and I know I will train to let them go. Or, at least, entertain the notion.
Three hours with the first geeks. I went through four levels of Tech Help and had only gained access to my e-mail. Presenting problem was still not fixed and I was forced to humbly beseech my wizard son for rescue, again. Only two hours this time and I didn’t even complain about missing Survivor. Computer and devices began working better: new passwords, cleaning off anything not needed, updating anti-malware, spyware, and Mr. Clean. Between computer and tablet, things were still funky but apparently benign and weakening. Drained and becoming more accepting of letting go of computer and internet access I resigned myself to using the Library computers. Poor me. In any case, further ministrations to all things electronic halted as we prepped to leave for a two week adventure in CA. My ‘tablet’ was semi-working. It would receive e-mail but not send it. So be it. This was an adventure.
Adventures Within Adventures
Adventure vacation planner is one of my responsibilities. It’s not an exceptionally difficult task, especially when one’s definition of adventure is quite broad. This trip’s special adventures included searching for and finding the only open, stylish bar after arriving late and having a celebratory martini, a Hot Air Balloon Ride (6,000′ up), being with a best friend I rarely see, walking on many & varied beaches, car climbing up to Big Bear Lake (7300′ and moist) and hiking in those same San Bernadino Mts., almost being kidnapped into a motel that felt like it came right out of Criminal Minds, and hiking again, this time in the Mojave and San Bernadino Deserts (6,500′ up). And, Oh Yes, the adventure of receiving e-mail but not sending it.
At times it felt a bit like the Hot Air Balloon Ride. Observing the world passing by, sometimes in still life and other times in video. Separate from everything, floating on the wings of a silent wind, knowing that we’re moving but, often, unable to feel the moving. And then sometimes it felt a bit like the neurological condition of being ‘locked in’. Where one is fully aware of what is going on but unable to respond in any way. Another kind of silence and floating. A very insulated space.
It Actually Felt Quite Peaceful
Yes. Training to let go of everything we fear to lose can be peaceful and fairly simple. But it’s not always easy. And like all skills, it takes practice. In all the years of helping people learn the skill of ‘letting go’, two sub-skills were the most challenging:
- The first was learning how to stop thinking through everything and just notice what is going on, primarily with one’s own body and mind: ‘stomach is growling, pants feel snug, pleasant smell, etc.. Then we move on to noticing feelings, and naming them. This could be grueling but oh so very interesting when one gets the knack. As a side note, the word “impunity” has been the word of the day, in our household, for a couple of months now. Impunity = total freedom from any harm or punishment. Sounds like a total absence of fear to me. I’ve been on the look out for impunity.
- The second biggest challenge was learning how to willingly look at whatever arouses strong emotions, I guess, with impunity. Practice what it might be like to … be very ill, lose one’s livelihood, lose a loved one, lose whatever, and notice the feelings as you do so.
With letting go of fears in mind, I packed my pack for a desert trek. Low desert and high desert. Sand and gigantic volcanic rocks surrounding us in the low is our first foray. I have the map, 2+ litres of water, beef jerky, emergency kit with multi-purpose tool, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, magnifying glass, fire sticks, wine bottle opener, surgical scissors, spoon (should be a spork!),
sewing kit, flashlight, rubber band, Q-tips, shower cap, SPF lotion, and a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation mask. My traveling companion is carrying a wallet and an iPhone, and I don’t think we have any ‘bars’ here at all.
Dare you imagine what I may have felt when my main man stopped the car at a small parking area, about 20% of the way into the desert, and proceeded to walk into the sand, surrounded by these gigantic rocks, with impunity? I don’t see any paths, nor do I see any signs. I verbalized my concerns and concluded with “maybe I’m getting more cautious in my old age” and a shrug. Guess who chimes in with a “Yup. I think you are getting more cautious in your old age” ?
And this is one of the most fun things about practicing letting go. In an instant I noticed all the stuff around being ‘cautious’, and being prepared for anything – even the last great adventure, standing in this desert that could swallow us up overnight, and I felt connected to the rocks, rumbling with a deep down rock person laugh, resonating the message “Caution? Hah, We’re ready for anything!” And I laugh about the 6,000′ Balloon Ride with no Plan B if it pops, and about standing in the parking lot of the Criminal Minds Motel with one hand on my multi-purpose tool and the other ready to execute a Tai Chi ‘block and chop with fist’. Or do I chop first?
When we let go of something doesn’t that leave an empty space?
I’ve struggled with and pondered this for years. Using a simple simile, picture holding tightly onto a ball of wool, then let it go. The ball of wool is still there but we’re not clinging to it. What we’re afraid to lose we hold onto tightly. Yet, the only thing that changes when we let go of something is our relationship to it. When, instead of hanging onto stuff and carrying baggage, I let it go or set it down a new freedom enters the relationship; into the space created when I let go.
Another simply marvy thing about letting go of that which we fear to lose is that a lot of the stuff we cling to doesn’t go anyplace, it’s still around. An easy example is letting go of internet and e-mail. I can stop being afraid of losing it and still have it! Maybe even as long as until The Apocalypse, if there is one. Perhaps more challenging to let go: our independence, a child, spouse, job. But by practicing what it might be like to lose what is most precious to us we gain freedom to appreciate that ‘whatever it is’ is still with us.
This Is The Work of Mindful Dying and Playful Living
I added something to my ’emergency kit’ – an apple, the last thing to eat when there’s nothing left to eat. It earned this status after traveling for several weeks, over thousands of miles and still holding up pretty well.
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