One morning last week, having seen my children safely to school, I came into the serenity and silence of my kitchen and made a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Black, no sugar, piping hot — just like my tea.
And then, eager to begin the day by emailing a fresh lead for a writing gig, I made my way — coffee in hand — over to my beautiful, still nearly brand new, beloved laptop.
You can see where this is going already, can’t you?
You might even be holding your breath…perhaps, hoping against hope, thinking “She didn’t…did she? She couldn’t have…”
But I did.
Not on purpose, obviously. But it still happened.
As I set the coffee down beside my laptop, the cup tipped…and a warm wave of liquid overwhelmed the keyboard, sank down between the keys, and swamped the inner workings of my marvelous, magical machine.
I’m not going to go into all that happened next, save to say that I was vacillating wildly between panicking that my little friend would not be able to be salvaged and berating myself repeatedly for my massive, monstrous stupidity.
Because that helps, obviously.
And once I’d managed to put the melodramatics aside — which took far longer than I’d like to admit because, believe me, I am more than capable of becoming completely histrionic when such a situation arises — I sucked in a several deep breaths. Then I went to my favourite yoga class and sucked in a few more.
(I may also have called my Dad…because adulting is hard, some days.)
And finally, when I got home from yoga and gingerly inserted the power cord back into the device and discovered that it still wasn’t working, I…
And followed that up with several more big, deep, sob-like sighs…
By this point, you may be wondering why on earth I am writing this? Why am I even admitting to this? Why would someone who prides herself on being organised, of paying attention to detail, of getting things right the first time — not to mention someone who, to earn a living, helps other people to become organised and precise — why would I write about what my kids would call a completely epic fail?
Well, for a couple of reasons, really.
First of all, accidents happen. We all experience setbacks. We all, as Shakespeare far more elegantly put it, must “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. But it’s what we do in response that counts. As Victoria Erickson once said, of disappointment:
Don’t immediately brush it off. Feel it first, and it then it will leave you quicker. Here’s the thing about broken glass: it needs to be acknowledged and swept up so you don’t step on it later.
The same thing applies, I suspect, to broken laptops.
And that brings me to the second thing: planning. Which includes, of course, planning for potential catastrophes — and explains why I diligently followed my To Do List and backed up my laptop the afternoon before I tipped coffee all over it.
Procedures. Systems. Contingency Plans. They might sound (and frequently are) incredibly boring and mundane but believe me, they have their place. And while adhering to my regular backup procedure won’t replace my laptop, it does mean that all my data — and everything last thing I have been working on for my clients — is safe and accessible.
This life — whether it be at home, or at work — is not about achieving perfection. It’s not about managing to snatch a second or two upon a glittering pinnacle. It’s not about being flawless or faultless, because we’re human beings, after all.
Rather, I would argue that life is about striving for progress, not perfection, and about aiming to be our best and most consistent selves, each and every day. Because I would also suggest that our reaction to a situation can, quite literally, have the power to change the situation itself. And the plans we make and execute can leave us in a much better position than we might have been otherwise.
Even when we tip hot coffee on our laptops.
Well, that’s what I think, anyway.
PS: When did you last do a back up?
Blue Jai Creative – freelance writing and administration services for your home and business, servicing Sydney’s Northern Beaches and beyond.
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