Two weeks ago my iMac computer screen went black out of the blue. It turns out that is a common problem with macs. It is sometimes called “black death”. Fortunately for most people the issue is easily repaired. Unfortunately for me, not so much. After trying without any success to fix the problem over a two-week span using many different approaches, Apple techs diagnosed that the video card is broken. It is a very old computer that had a good life first for my brother and then for me. So I am finally going to have to say goodbye to it.
At first I though I’d try to live without a computer. I mean, couldn’t we all use a little less screen time in our life? It turns out that living without a computer is a blessing in disguise or a nightmare depending on your point of view. I don’t do tons on my computer although I always seem to be in front of it. I check email, use my calendar, surf the web and most importantly write and post blogs. So I tried for a week to just use my phone for email and calendaring. I didn’t do any writing during the computer down time but frankly I spent so much time trying to fix my computer that I didn’t have much bandwidth to write.
The thought of buying a new computer made me crazy. They are expensive and given my ambivalence about having a computer at all I really was in no rush to get a new machine. The limbo experience was fascinating. I think I checked my email more often than usual but used my phone instead of my computer. I also have a very old LG pad that is close to obsolete given how quickly it loses power and crashes. Given desperate times, I decided to keep the LG pad open on my desk to facilitate email, web surfing and reviewing my schedule on the larger screen.
After I got the final diagnosis that my computer was kaput, I was talking with my husband Andy when he realized that we have my dad’s old 2011 Lenova ideapad. The laptop had been my mother’s before my dad went into a nursing home. So mom bought a new laptop and gave her older one to dad. (Yes, we hand-me-down computers a lot in our family.) I remember cleaning up the laptop for my dad so that he could write bedside, which he did. After he passed in 2017, we took the computer and stashed it away. I hadn’t thought that much about it but I am glad that Andy remembered.
My dad didn’t use the laptop very long (unfortunately) so although it is slow and runs Windows 7, it is in fine shape. So I thought I’d give it a try as my computer. It didn’t need much of a makeover. I offloaded a number of my dad’s files onto a jump drive then cleared the way to upgrade and personalize the computer for me. Today is my first real day of use. Using LibreOffice, a wonderful free word processing software package, here I am typing away again.
I certainly have mixed feelings about using dad’s laptop (it doesn’t feel like it was mom’s even though I logically know that it was once hers as well). For one thing, it is very old in computer years. That mostly means that it is slow to open and close programs and files. The fact that it is Windows based doesn’t bother me because I have many years experience with both PCs and macs. It does make transferring my old mac files more difficult. Much of my work is on the cloud so those files are really easy to access. Files in my time-machine that are not on the cloud will have to wait for me to have enough energy to go through the recovery process. So I’ll take my time setting up iTunes and moving over older files.
But there are the lingering feelings about my dad to process. Grief never really goes away, it just behaves differently at different points in your life. As I was looking for paperwork on my dad’s computer I found a folder of his hand-written notes from while he was in the home. The rush of emotion and tears was intense. Using his computer is a bit strange and yet also wonderful. As I type I can almost feel the remnants of his fingertips on the keyboard. His energy fuses with mine. I can handle that.
Finally, I am approaching my use of the computer differently this time. Rather than keeping it always on and surfing the web far too often, my goal is to use my computer sparingly and mindfully. I am so grateful that I have a full keyboard so that I can write (although it always takes some getting used to a different keyboard). My goal is to rely more on my phone for calendar reminders and checking my email which I hope to do less frequently for my sanity. The nice thing about a laptop is that you can close it. My big screen iMac was stunning but more enticing. My hope is that I will have many years ahead of me with my new, old laptop and that I truly embrace the less is more approach to using it.