Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On Not Needing to Fix It

Last year, during the school year, my MacBook Pro experienced something that is colloquially called "the plaid screen of death." That is, I turned on my beloved laptop and the screen that greeted me was plaid. Plaid. Tartan. Striped with gel-pen colors and looking very, very wrong. It also gave me a cryptic and frightening error message. It was one of the most disturbing things that my young eyes have seen. After rebooting it once or twice and getting the same problem, I'm fairly certain I started to freak out.

Fortunately, I had a netbook and an iTouch which both allowed me to have Internet outside my dorm (though not inside, for various reasons), and this happened during a lull in the semester in terms of homework that required my Mac. But, I didn't know how long fixing it would take, I didn't know if the hard drive was in tact, and I knew I would have to make the long, terrible, deadly drive to the closest Apple Store. I was not pleased.

The following day, on the morning of my pilgrimage, I had a very early class. I don't remember why I didn't skip it. I was exhausted, I was stressed, I was angry, I was frightened for my computer and my data, and within hours I would be driving unfamiliar roads in highly populated areas of Orlando. For some reason that I cannot now recall, I still decided to wake up on time to go to my 8:30 AM class.

I'd never before understood what to do when someone was having a bad day, especially if I couldn't fix the problem. I understand listening to people "vent," but I never had any clue if I was supposed to say anything or do anything specific if I couldn't fix it for them, or tell them what to do.

The 8:30 AM class was, fortunately, taught by one of my all-time favorite professors, a nice guy who teaches the material in a sensible, linear fashion. By the end of the class, I was actually in a good mood, partially distracted from my troubles and partially feeling like they didn't amount to such a big deal after all. I was feeling hopeful. It was the sort of take-on-the-world feeling that I usually get from a good cup of coffee. And I got this kind of mood-improvement from someone who didn't even know that I had a problem, who probably didn't even speak directly to me that day.

That was about when I learned that I don't have to fix other people's problems to help them through it. Generally, all I have to do is give them some hope and positivity to help them fix it on their own. I will always contend that God gives more hope than ever I can, but besides pointing people in That Direction, I can also, you know, be nice. And stuff.

Incidentally, Apple replaced the motherboard, after which my Mac - and its hard drive - were totally fine.

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