Date with Death

I was actually typing up an entirely different blogpost when my computer’s battery percentage caught my eye. It’s nearly dead, and the icon is red, urging me to go get my charger, as if everything is so urgent. (It’s the same with the dashboard lights in your car. I swear the alarms go off when you are running low on window washer fluid.)

And so, I do what any lazy one of us does: I procrastinate. I let the battery run down to the wire, playing a terrible game with my valuables. Will I lose all of the words I have just typed out when the screen goes black, or will I get my charger in time to reboot it up quickly, leaving me where I left off?

I wonder all of this, and then I wonder, if somehow, the fact that my computer keeps track of when it is going to die somehow makes it worse.

I mean, what if people were notified in the same way about when they were going to die? Like a special watch or an egg timer that you kept in your pocket that incessantly clicked. Would you want that device? Or more to the point, would you want that knowledge?

Of course, some of us don’t get that choice; it is thrusted upon us. Terminal patients are given an estimate. Some exceed the limit, some don’t. But they are more or less told when their lives are going to end. And so, you have to decide what to do with your time left. You either make amends or you make memories. You do what you can with the best that you have.

But.

Isn’t that what we are all doing anyway? We may not know when we are going to die, but we know it will happen. This encourages us to make decisions and forego others. We’re all doing what we can with the best that we have, whether we know it or not.

And you may argue that people with terminal illnesses are different because they know the time they have, and it isn’t much. A sense of urgency is not lost on them like it is on the rest of us.

But I have to wonder if it actually is. If we’re all not procrastinating bigger decisions, just letting our batteries run out, no matter how long we have. Because even if we know when we’ll die, does it make it any easier to live right now? Shouldn’t we all be living like tomorrow is our last day?

The end of this story is that I eventually got up and grabbed my charger before it was too late.

I only want to make sure that it isn’t too late for you, either.

Back That Thing Up (Often)

So, as most of you know, I was down one incredibly expensive computer this past week, which made blogging quite difficult. But thankfully, it is now back, shiny and new with a functioning keyboard and battery.

Except for the fact that most of my files are gone.

Yes, somewhere between last May and right now I decided that it would not be a good idea to back up my files so that I could enjoy them at a later date. So, that means old resumes, cover letters, new drafts of an old book, and a few writings are completely gone. A huge price to pay for a new keyboard and battery (plus the astronomical price I actually paid for repairs).

And I can’t lie. The panic set in when I realized it. I couldn’t believe that I had thought my files were safe enough and that I could resist backing up my current progress. Like many millenials, most of my life is on a computer. Pictures, old assignments, senior thesis, music, all on one fallible device. You feel helpless when you find that it is all gone, your presence in the world wiped clean. And then something absolutely selfish crept in, convincing me that my outrage for not keeping a recent backup of precious documents somehow mattered in the great scheme of the universe. People are dying all over the world but me? I have to rewrite my resume. Boo hoo.

Well, you can sense my outrage over my own outrage.

Because it’s incredibly frustrating to lose all of your progress, but it isn’t life threatening. To discuss one of my favorite books of all time, You’re a Badass, Jen Sincero spends time talking about failure and how to cope with it. One of the stories that stuck with me was from a friend of hers. Her friend had worked hard to create her own recording studio, buying all of the equipment out of her own pocket. Only a few days after the construction was complete, the entire studio was engulfed in flames. That’s right, her brand new recording studio gone. Do you know what she did? She didn’t tear her hair out. She didn’t cry over the ashes of her headphones and mixers. She simply built another one, a more state-of-the-art one. And she created mad, sick beats.

And that’s how you need to approach each setback and failure. You should never think that when you are made to start over that you should stop altogether. Just the opposite. You should begin again and try even harder. Me? I’m ready to rewrite the drafts I had (from scratch) because now I don’t have to be hampered by what could have been. I don’t have to edit what’s there. I can start completely over and create something great.

So, do me a favor. Do not view any step back as a failure. See it as a chance to start again, fresher and better each time.

Oh, and back up all of your stuff. Like now. Seriously. Save your future self so much frustration. I’m not kidding. Go.