What the Genius Taught Me

I am usually the most prepared of persons. I work in insurance and managing risk is not only a relatively endearing part of my Type A personality, it is also what makes me successful at my job.

Sadly, I was not utilizing my strengths when it came to setting up the backup schedule for our home computer. If there had been any backup schedule at all, that would have been something.

When I came back to Boston on Sunday to begin the process of moving our stuff out to our new home, I noticed that our computer had frozen. Sadly, it had frozen mid-backup to a new “cloud” backup software that we had joined in anticipation of our items being shipped 3,000 miles away. Our last backup had been many, many moons before.

I couldn’t get the computer to load after the freeze, and then I saw this image:

This is not an image you want to see on your mac. It is second in terror only to the sad mac face.
So I set up an appt with apple for Thursday, and because I am getting good at compartmentalizing anxiety, I shipped that fear off to the latter portion of the week. I was too tired and jet-lagged to focus, and fretting about it wasn’t going to turn the computer back on.  

I arrived at the mall today, carrying my enormous iMac. I think I would have made a cute Apple ad because it looked like I was hugging it. I was. It was like holding an old friend - one that has, you know, basically every one of your memories. I was hoping for the best news (but secretly anxious for the worst). When I described my issue to the apple geniuses, there were a lot of empathetic faces and softly worded questions about my back up schedule. And then there was testing, and more solemn faces, and the plaintive wails of the man next to me whose son had used his laptop as a repository for coffee. He didn’t have a backup schedule, either.  

And then Gordon told me that my hard drive was no more. It had decided to take an early retirement – and with it – my pictures, my music, my documents, and all the other aspects of my digital life. For someone receiving this sort of news, I remained remarkably calm. I asked him about my ipad and my ipods and the 18 other electronic apple gadgets that we have. Could you - I asked - retrieve anything from those? The answer is yes in most cases and I patted myself on the back for brand loyalty to apple. These are incomplete versions of my digital life, but they will help.

I watched Gordon work with his manager to replace my hard drive for free -and ship my recovered "just like new - literally" iMac to the West Cost at no cost (what nice people). I was just out of warranty and they thought I could use that money towards recovering my data (specialists can maybe recover data - but it is exceptionally expensive - high 3 to 4 digit prices). Bless them, and their understanding, and their empathy.

A year ago, I know that I would have completely lost it at that genius bar. But today  I just took a deep breath and reminded myself that there are no time machines to take me back (And yes, Apple fans - I know there is a product called the Time Machine that does just that for backups. The irony is not lost on me).

Reality - this present moment - is what is available. I don't know if it's detachment or just an ability to be present - but I did feel like my reaction was in line with how I am trying to live my life. I am pretty devastated to have lost control of a big bank of memories and comforts. But for a few minutes, while I breathed, I sat on the stool in this little white apple castle and I thought about the moments - not about the photos. The London year when we traveled Europe. Our recent trips to St. Thomas and London in November. Our furkids growing up. Early memories of our time in San Francisco. Yes, I want the photos. And I will get some of them back through friends, family, emails, devices, limited backups, etc. But I didn't lose the memories. My husband always tells me that I'm missing the moment as I snap up lots of pictures and set scenes for cute couples shots. Thank goodness he did so I took more of it in.

Did I learn a lesson? Absolutely I did. I should manage my backups better and print pictures more.

But at the same time, you realize that life is worth living for the moment, too. Photos capture moments we never want to forget. But you don't want to miss the moment happening right now. It's a delicate balance.

And that's what the Genius (bar) taught me.