Thursday, February 7, 2008

False Sense of Security

My laptop was stolen two nights ago. I was sitting on a bench at a bus stop, overburdened with numerous bags, and when the bus arrived, I got up and walked toward the bus without my laptop. I noticed literally within thirty seconds, but by the time I turned around to go back and pick it up, someone had already grabbed it and taken off.

I went around most of yesterday feeling awful. Fortunately, I back everything up on a flash drive which I wear around my neck, so the WORST outcome -- losing all of my writing, and months of course preparation -- was averted. In fact, ever since my computer died on me last spring (requiring me to send it in for repairs), I actually work directly off the flash drive and then back the flash drive up to my computer, so my computer hard drive is actually less up-to-date than what I still have left. So that was a big relief.

But I still felt awful. My laptop is pretty much my constant companion. Being a writer and a teacher, it is the main tool of my trade. Not to mention that it is a terribly expensive piece of equipment, one that I won't have the financial resources to replace maybe for the rest of this year.

But over the last 24 hours, I have lived into the awareness that, as important a possession as it was to me, it was, like all possessions, still just an accessory. It is not the laptop in itself that has any importance, but the human being I have become while using the laptop as a tool. Writing has been one of my most vital spiritual practices, something that has helped me unravel so many knots of pain, confusion and fear, and helped me clarify who and what I am, what my faith is, and how to move forward in this crazy world, where people steal laptops and do much, much worse to each other. It is me, it is what I've become that counts, and no one can take that from me (and the writing will continue, on little scraps of paper if necessary).

And I'm left praying for the person who took it, hoping that his or her life can go in a more positive direction that it apparently is in right now. And wondering about this society of haves and have-nots that we have created and/or are complicit in. And all the things we build up around ourselves to give ourselves false senses of security.

I won't say having my laptop stolen was a blessing. But maybe it was a sign.


Bill McA said...

Sorry to hear about your laptop, John.
Any chance it might be covered by homeowner's insurance? Depending on [1] how much another laptop costs and [2] what your deductible is, it may not be worth reporting it, but think about it. Also, did you report it to the police? You may also want to check pawn shops near where it was taken. If you have a police report, the pawn shop would have to give it back to you if it turned up there, especially if you know the serial number.
These are all longshots, but new laptops are expensive.

J G-W said...

Yes, unfortunately it's probably not worth making an insurance claim, since we opted for a higher deductible plan to get increased coverage a few years back. I called the cops literally within 5 minutes of its being stolen. (I ended up missing two buses home, waiting out in the cold for the cops to come talk to me!!) I reported the serial number to them the next morning. I'm even checking in periodically with the city bus lost and found -- on the VERY long shot that the person who picked it up was actually an honest person who thought it had been lost or abandoned.

Long shots all. Which is why I've sort of resigned myself to accepting the spiritual lessons associated with losing a cherished material possession.

But if I get it back, I promise to post again about miraculous answers to prayer!

GeckoMan said...

How true your words are:

"like all possessions, still just an accessory."

We tend to 'accessorize' our lives to the point of distraction, forgetting the simple gifts that build faith and generosity. Like you say, it is what is in our heart that really matters, and recognizing that is one of your gifts of grace.

You inspire me. I want to talk about our attitude towards possessions in more detail later on in my own blog. Thanks for sharing who you are in your writing, and I hope that you can get another laptop to meet your needs soon.

Beck said...

I've had two (2) laptops stolen! Fortunately, they were traveling computers and not my main office computer, but even so, when it happens you feel violated and trespassed. I didn't lose files, but I lost email archives that were uniquely on those machines.

I'm sorry for you. But what a great example of archiving on the flashdrive!

playasinmar said...

Silver lining: you get to buy a Mac Air!

J G-W said...

Yeah, I was looking at those the other day... They are sweet. (A bit on the pricey side though, at two grand. I might have to settle for a bulkier model, once I have saved up the credits.)