Reflections Inspired by Being Unplugged

Carol A. Hand

The past week has been strange. My computer power pack fried on class-prep day, Thursday, leaving me without access to the internet. Thankfully, the colleague I co-teach with was able to shoulder the work of reading student assignments and preparing our class power point. Getting my little laptop functional presented too many challenges to address in a day – antivirus protection, internet connection, and too little space to even download Windows 10 updates. Amazingly, each challenge has been overcome with my sense of humor intact.

I must admit it was a relief to be free from the continuing bombardment of distressing news. Yet each time I entered the living room my eyes automatically focused on the computer screen. It was dark, making me realize how much time I spend online. Without my computer, I had time to think, read, and do tasks that I could never find time to do when I was dealing with my blog. I liked having all of that time to reflect.

Having so much extra time also meant I could sort through the piles of papers everywhere and get rid of unnecessary things. It was a healing time in some crucial ways, though. I realized how weary I have become. The state of the world weighs heavy on my heart.

Countering the hopelessness and sorrow that sometimes makes it hard for me to create takes a tremendous amount of energy. And it takes much more now than in years past. I don’t feel as physically resilient as I once believed myself to be. My 70th year felt like a turning point signaling inevitable decline. Illnesses, back injuries, and the uncertainty of recurring debilitating back pain were constant reminders of my limitations and growing frailty. The combination of hopelessness and feelings of increasing physical frailty made it very tempting to simply withdraw and live in a reclusive fantasy world.

Then, my computer power pack fried. Suddenly life quieted and simplified. I had a chance to reflect and fall in love with life again. I had a chance to remember what matters most in my life.

October 5, 2015

I realized that the one true love of my life has been my daughter through good times and bad. I certainly haven’t been a perfect mother but she has always remained the most significant love in my life, now joined by my two grandchildren. Partners and friends have come and gone, yet giving birth created a special connection. The words that come to mind when I think of her, “In my life – I love you more,” come from a song by the Beatles.

Time for family comes first. Just as I finished typing these words, I was called in to live them, putting all plans aside to help provide support in a challenging situation. Although unsure how to help, I was grateful for the chance to be present, standing on tiptoes to hug my beloved grandson.

I also had time to begin spring cleaning by purging file cabinets that I try to avoid opening with the excuse that I just don’t have time. Sifting through them this week helped me remember how many places I’ve lived. I had forgotten the courage it took for an introvert to begin such a wide variety of new jobs in new places. I realized, too, how much I have enjoyed working in partnership with elders, tribes, and communities to develop innovative programs that addressed their needs and visions.

Old files reminded me how much I have loved teaching. Reading through teaching evaluations made me realize that many of my students appreciated what and how I taught in return. I say that with deep humility and gratitude because it’s something I worked very hard to do in often repressive unsupportive institutions. Challenging the status quo through love-inspired creativity makes one a target, but for some of us, it’s just what we have to do to be true to who we are.

UW Madison – 1989

Revisiting the past made me realize how grateful I am for the opportunities I still have to teach and contribute what I can to help open up possibilities for others to awaken to their beauty and talents. It brings me joy to encourage others to care about the earth and people by example in the true spirit of liberatory praxis – action guided by knowledge and inclusive compassion. Making time for teaching keeps me engaged with life doing something I love to do.

The one ache that became clear, though, when I looked at the looming blank computer screen this past week, was my failure to make time to finish editing and revising my manuscript about Ojibwe child welfare. It’s not something I can do until my computer is repaired.

Thankfully, my computer can be fixed although it will take time. Until then, I will remain grateful for the ability to connect with the internet even though it means squinting to read tiny type on a tiny laptop. It’s hard on my eyes so I can’t spend much time reading or writing. If you don’t hear from me often these days, that’s why.

I am not sure when I will be able to post again or how often I will be able to visit your blogs and comment. That depends on forces outside of my control. But I can still send my best wishes to all and I do so now with gratitude.

26 thoughts on “Reflections Inspired by Being Unplugged”

  1. Dear Carol, good luck with the PC! It is always so stressful when it is broken down! Have a great time offline & cheer up! Life is not what is shown in the news! Life is everywhere through simply things you see around! Cheers! 🙂
    PS. Wonderful photo! You look perfect! Say nobody that you’re 70! No one will believe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, such true observations, Art. How fondly I remember a childhood when spending time in nature was my preferred form of entertainment, and later years the excitement of meaningful face-to-face dialogue that resulted in new understandings and creative partnerships.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Michael. It’s always a gift to hear from you.

      It seems I am destined to wait a bit longer for my computer. I just got a call from the technicians who are working on it that the replacement power core was defective so they’ve ordered yet another one. It seems I’ll have more time to practice patience. 🙂

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    2. It is always a gift to hear from you, Michael. It seems it may be an extended break, but I still have many more files to purge. Sending my best wishes to you, and gratitude for your thoughtful comments. ❤

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  2. Carol, none of us has sufficient time to practice patience. Your post reminds me how very much time I spend at my laptop instead of enjoying the amazing diversity of life around me. With my 78th birthday looming, one would think it’d be time not to need such a reminder. Thanks for your thoughtful and heart filled sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your thoughtful comments are much appreciated, Ron. Thank you for your kindness.

      It seems there will be an extended opportunity for me to practice patience while I wait for my computer’s return. The replacement parts the technicians received in the mail today were defective, too. Yet, in some ways this is a blessing for the reason you point out – the chance to enjoy “the amazing diversity of life” everywhere, especially given our very very slow transition to spring here.

      Sending my best wishes to you. 🙂

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  3. Carol…thank you for an honest, heartfelt, and vulnerable post…on so many levels. I wish you well with the technology challenges, and I’m reminded that this has occurred in the midst of a “retrograde”of the planet Mercury which has been known to “mess with” communication of various types. The best news is that you came to a wonderful place within as a result of this technological challenge…and that is its intent. You have reflected on very important life challenges, experiences and lessons. Blessings of love, peace and acceptance to you, dear Carol. 💕☮️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post, Carol. I reflected along with you on many things I am grateful for, in particular the special bond with my son and my two grandkids. And keeping at what we love, will in turn keep us loving life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My wife is a long-retired teacher who loves what she did despite not always having the support teachers should have. I like to think she made a difference in many a kid’s life….and I’m sure she did. What greater reward can there be?

    Liked by 1 person

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