I’ve been yearning for a break in my weekly schedule. Waiting for something to allow for a journey towards another story, if even for a few hours. In the middle of an academic quarter I can’t just up and go to a pilgrimage site. At least it wouldn’t be advisable. But I keep wishing for something to slow me down. However, when that opportunity arrives, I balk – especially when it takes the form of a three to seven day repair of my laptop’s logic board.
At first I was calm and considered how this would give me some of that longed for break. Maybe I could spend a few hours at an art museum, exploring a library, or looking at new forms of ministry. Then I started thinking about a few tasks that still needed to be finished – today. It took me several hours to figure out an hour’s worth of work as I moved between two old computers, an iphone, and files somewhere in the cloud. Now I have to figure out how to work for the rest of the week.
Not only have I lost the tool that helps me with work, my writing pad is gone for a few days. What do I do without the computer that contains all the files on which I want to work? I have access to other computers, but without ready access to the projects I’ve started I feel lost. Everything is backed up, but inaccessible. So, I’m on hold. Do I try to recreate the work on another computer for now, or do I take a break? During this time I feel restless and guilty. I should be working, getting something done. Keystrokes equal productivity, right?
If I am honest, I often hide behind a computer screen. I put off going to the library or heading to campus because I must first accomplish the work that I’ve tied to the computer – writing outlines, compiling agendas, sending emails, or researching projects. These and similar tasks provide a measure of accomplishment and they are something in which I am in control. Once I leave the keyboard I don’t know what will happen.
There are many excuses to not head towards that story beyond my daily routine – yet deeply held within my soul. It’s not practical, it’s too far away, I will let down others, there are too many unknowns. And when this change is forced, through events like a broken computer, there’s a yearning to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Within a routine I know how to measure success. Out on that new road, I’m not sure. I don’t know what I will encounter.
For now that road is time without my computer. I’ll be on campus and at home for days without this electronic security blanket. It feels as if I’ve lost something. But in this discomfort I’m forced to look around with new eyes. Observe these days. Take field notes. Be open to a new story. This isn’t the break I was wanting, though it may be the break I need.