As many of you know, I had some problems with my computer in the last few weeks. A vicious ransomware attack necessitated the removal of my operating system and the installation of a new one This pretty much left my poor laptop with an irreversible case of amnesia... all my files were corrupted beyond recovery, leaving me and my computer tech no choice but to delete them all.
What did that mean, specifically? Well, all my word files are gone... including the first 22,000 words of the next book in my Black Horse Campground series. Yes, I know, I should have backed them up on thumb drives (and thanks to the many friends who gifted me with thumb drives after the meltdown!) My e-mail addresses and all e-mails prior to last Thursday are gone. Some of my photo files are intact, others are gone. Pretty much I am starting over with a completely clean slate, which is simultaneously exciting and devastating.
So why am I not sobbing and pounding my head against the wall?
For one thing, it would accomplish very little except, perhaps, making me feel a little better (at least until the pain from hitting the wall kicked in.) All the panicking, despair, wailing and keening, and overall freaking-out in the world isn't going to bring my files back. It would, however, be an enormous waste of time and energy... time and energy best spent reorganizing, regrouping, and (wait for it!) rewriting.
Secondly, what have I really lost? Not my laptop--the hard drive is perfectly fine and my computer tech assures me I'll get another year or two of use out of it (it's almost five years old) and I just don't have the money to shell out for a new one. That's a win! And I haven't lost my story, despite the 22k words that I wrote and didn't save. I still have the story in my head and in my heart. It will be rewritten. Perhaps it won't be the exact same story I wrote down a few weeks ago... but it might just be better!
Third, and most important, I've learned that your attitude says a lot about you. It's one thing to tell people you're going through a hard time or had some problems. But unless they are in a position to do something about it, besides offer sympathy, going on and on about it and dragging your little black cloud around with you is not going to accomplish anything except maybe thin out your social contacts. It's not that people are mean or unsympathetic; it's just that they, too, might have problems as well and when you do nothing but complain and bemoan the universe's conspiracy to destroy you, it becomes clear that your world has no room for anyone but yourself. That doesn't make you someone a lot of people want to be around.
Writers do live in their own little world populated by their characters and sometimes it's hard to leave the safe confines and venture out into the "real world" populated by real people and their very real problems. But like everyone else, we do rely on the rest of humanity to make a living and live in the world. There's no reason to make everyone's life more miserable than it already might be. Many people, perhaps more than we suspect, carry a very heavy burden that few people know about. You know who they are: they're the people we enjoy talking to, the people who always seem to have a positive energy emanating from them, the people who make us feel better just by coming into contact with them.
What is important is to decide which kind of person you want to be. And in this season of giving thanks, it's a good time to focus on developing an attitude of gratitude for what we have and not focusing so much on what we have lost or what we've never had. Because sometimes, being richer and better off has a lot more to do with our attitude than with what we have.
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