what happens when your computer dies?

Here’s my story.

Last week I was casually looking through things online (very important things, of course). All was well. My computer was kind of slow, but not much worse than it had been for the last few months. No problem.

I packed it up and took it to Second Cup for the afternoon, intending to be super productive while I was there (by the way, have you seen their cute blue Christmas cups? They make me happy to look at).

Things were looking good. I opened it up, started working, and then all of a sudden it just froze. And then never really unfroze, not really.

After installing a few updates and resetting a bunch of things, it still wasn’t working. So I took it to the genius bar because, why not?

They ran a few tests, the last of which being a hard drive test. “It’ll take 10-15 minutes” she said, “If anything flashes on the screen, let me know, I’ll be around helping some other people.”

No more than 1 minute later you can imagine what flashed onto the screen.

FAILED. In giant red letters.

Well that was fast.

I opted to buy my own hard drive and replace it myself. I make that sound like this is something I know a little bit about. That couldn’t be more from the truth. But I was assured by a friend it was simple enough, and would save me some money (win-win).

I was determined I could do it.

And you know what, I did. (Yeah I did! I carefully unscrewed and unplugged and unscrewed some more and eventually I had the new hard drive safely in my computer. Youtube videos to the rescue!)

Formatting the hard drive, using my old Snow Leopard installation disc to get an operating system on the hard drive, updating to the latest version of Snow Leopard, updating to Yosemite, and downloading all the apps and extensions I use on a daily basis took almost an entire 24 hours. That’s no joke. It was simple enough, but 24 hours is a long time.

(But it was kinda fun seeing the transformation from Snow Leopard to Yosemite. Huge differences there!)

And that’s the happy story. In one week I went from a failing hard drive to a faster computer, successfully. Great! But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. You just needed some back story. And maybe I wanted to brag that I’m cool because I swapped out my own hard drive. Even though it’s got to be the easiest thing to do. I’m having a happy moment :)

What I actually wanted to share was about how it felt not to have a computer. I spent a week staring at walls, cleaning the apartment, listening to the radio, and trying to keep up with everything on my phone.

But honestly, it’s not the same at all. I felt useless (remember, the work I do needs a computer, or is at least made 100x faster with a computer).

On the other hand, it was quite freeing. It effectively eliminated half the procrastination in my life! I literally could not use my computer, so there was no chance of all the things on the internet being a distraction from other things I wanted to do. And after having a computer, trying to use a phone for absolutely everything isn’t the greatest experience.

I was left to just live my life. It was like an extension of not taking my phone into the bedroom, except 500% more intense.

I noticed things in the apartment more. I sat and gazed outside. I felt the urge to go for a walk. I rediscovered how much I love brainstorming in a notebook. I baked cinnamon bread! I thought about the new year.

It was really nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy to have my computer back, but I’m glad I got the chance to experience not having a computer at least for a little while. Sure, sometimes it sucked, but it helped me remember how nice it is not to be attached to a machine that can do it all. It’s nice to wonder. To imagine. To think. To feel the peace that comes with not being able to fill your head with mindless entertainment.

So what happens when your computer dies? It opens your eyes to the awesomeness of peace and quiet.