Thursday, July 11, 2013

The water crisis

I've developed a healthy phobia of liquids.
I now use a covered beverage container to protect my computer
When I was young, my mother told me I was a pessimist. I don't know if she was right or not because I can't really remember.

But after I lost a house, a savings account, and a way of life, I became a genuine optimist. I figured I'd received my share of shit, and things couldn't get worse. I was due some good fortune.

When I spilled water on my computer last week, then, I figured I probably just damaged the battery. How much could it cost to replace a battery?

"It will cost $755 to fix your computer," the Genius said, squinting over his iPad as he swiped his hand across the screen and began typing about my laptop's extensive ailments.

"$755? I thought it was just the battery," I whispered, my eyes wide and my heart beginning to quicken.

"I like your optimism," he said. He ran his fingers through his spiky hair and paused. I eyed his silver, skull shaped ring and the snake slithering up his muscled arm as I prepared to hear what I knew would be bad news.  "But you damaged the logic board, the most expensive piece of the machine."

Though the truth was presented in its simplest and truest form, I didn't believe it. The genius's prognosis, I decided, had to be wrong. Though breaking up with Apple is hard to do, I left the glitzy new store, pulsing with intellect.  I'd hire someone else to fix my computer, someone who recognized it was just the battery that needed to be replaced.

But the feedback was consistently gruesome. It was best to replace the computer.

The $1,000 computer.

I tried to focus on my health, my loving family, my many blessings, because that's what you're supposed to do when things go wrong. But the financial impact of my careless mistake pressed down on me, making it hard to breathe, sit still, sleep.

This one mistake revealed the fragility of our recovery. I spilled more than water. I turned over and washed away our first steps toward financial stability. Now washed away, I'd thrown us back into the hole of hopelessness, stress, and despair we'd been diligently working our way out of. I reopened questions about how we were faring financially. If a broken computer could create such a burden, was our current strategy working? Did we need to alter it? Could success be in our future, or did we need to change our course of action?

I hated these questions. I was tired of asking them. But crisis always dredges them up, laying them in plain sight. They cannot be ignored.

And so I realized I have a paradoxical relationship with crisis. It is both an enemy and a friend. It is easy to get bogged down in the details of living and ignore larger life goals. These disruptions, then, can be useful.

No one will ever accuse me of living an unexamined life.

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