Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Lesson in Perspective

by Kerry Blair

I’ve had a better week than Wall Street, but only by a little. My greatest cause to mourn was the presumed death of a beloved laptop. Since I gave my “good” laptop to a family without a computer, I’ve been using a machine that has been to Iraq – twice. Its space bar sticks and there is no T, G or B key. I circumvented that problem by plugging a keyboard into the one still-functional USB port. (This works until the laptop keyboard kicks in for no particularly good reason and I end up with “words” suitable for communications with Alpha Centauri.)

Anyway, I love this machine. I love it because it is the means by which my son sent home “I’m fine, Mom” communiqués during the scariest months of my life. I love it because I can turn it upside down, shake it vigorously, and get a small pile of sand from the land of Abraham. I love it every time I run my hand over its gouged and battered surface and am reminded that I am one of the blessed ones – my youngest son brought it home himself. (If only one of them could return from war with all his pieces attached and in good working order, I’m glad it was the kid rather than the computer.)

When it died – or I thought it had – I was practically inconsolable. It is the only computer in the house that works with my broadband connection, so it is where I store 99% of the work I do for others. (If you think it’s bad to lose your own manuscript, try dumping somebody else’s.) It was awful. One of the first people I wrote to complain to was friend and fellow-writer Susan Corpany. Her response was the best lesson in perspective I’ve ever heard. It’s so good, in fact, that I simply had to share. So, with her permission, here is part of what she wrote:

Take a moment with me. Sit down in your most comfortable chair. Close your eyes. Transport yourself back to your high school days, the pre Post-It Note era. (No dinosaurs were roaming the earth, but some were still decomposing.) Remember typing class. Remember typewriter ribbons and inky fingers. Remember how excited we were at the invention of that little ball, how we would marvel at how fast we could make it move when we typed and there were no keys to jam. Remember when they came out with the correcting Selectric and we no longer had to erase, or use those little postage-stamp correction strips. Imagine having to type your manuscript a page at a time. (Any corrections or changes meant typing the whole page over and probably several other pages as a result of the changes.) Imagine finally being done, only to have to edit the manuscript and then retype the whole thing. Imagine doing that several times in the polishing process. Now remember the early word processors that had about a ten-page memory. Remember dot matrix printers. Now think about how blessed you are to have a computer that even though it has crashed, still contains somewhere deep within all the work you have done. Open your eyes now, and remind yourself that for a fraction of what that ten-page memory machine used to cost, you can replace your laptop. Breathe deep. Ask yourself how much you would have willingly paid thirty-five years ago if someone had offered to sell you a machine that did all that it does for you. Adjust for inflation, and you're probably still ahead. Now go buy some uncooked cookie dough and eat enough to impart comfort every day until you get your computer situation resolved.

If that didn't work, try this one. Your laptop died just as a flash flood came down the canyons and washed away your house. You had the presence of mind to grab it and climb up on the roof before the house washed away, in case your data could be recovered. Unfortunately, you did not take the time to grab any food or water. Fortunately, you are dressed. Unfortunately, you are dressed in something slinky you had put on to get your husband's attention. Fortunately, it gets the attention of the helicopter rescue crew. Unfortunately, it also gets the attention of the news chopper. Now back that up until all you've got is a dead laptop computer. Voila--perspective!

Thanks, Susan! It really is all a matter of perspective. (Did I mention that I’ve had a better week than Wall Street?) Besides, my computer started working again as mysteriously as it “died.” It must be the Marine in it. Semper fi!

Note: The author of several terrific novels, Susan is a columnist for Meridian Magazine, and contributor to Authors Den. She's promised to guest blog here very soon! (No, today doesn't count.)


At 10/10/2008 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/10/2008 5:26 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Ah-h Perspective. One of my favorite topics. I think I'll blog about it on my blog one of these days. I loved yours and Susan's.

At 10/11/2008 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you imagine Mary Shelley sitting down with her quill, ink well and parchment to write Frankenstein, and then doing any re-writing her husband wanted? Gasp! I think I have very little to compain about, yet I always seem to do it just the same. :)

At 10/11/2008 10:28 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

ah perspective . . . it goes so far! Good luck with the laptop situation!

At 10/12/2008 7:44 PM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Loved the blog, Kerry and Susan. =)I really needed it today.

At 10/14/2008 9:23 AM, Blogger Josi said...

LOL--we all need a little susan in our life.

At 10/16/2008 9:59 PM, Blogger Lucy Eliza said...

Ah, whats a typewriter? Just kidding! Man, I remember the dot matrix printers. I still have some things that were printed on one. I love my laser printer! :P

Awesome blog, Kerry. And I'm glad your laptop started working again. That sounds like the coolest computer in the history of computers.


Post a Comment

<< Home