Paarth Madan

A medium to iterate on my own thoughts.

Lousy Laptop

Posted at — Apr 25, 2020

A few weeks ago, I had 3 assignments due on a single day, and as per usual I left the bulk (all) of the work to the night before.

As it would happen, my laptop sporadically crashed and I was unable to use it.

It was a stressful situation, but it didn’t need to be.

I’ll be using this post to improve my ability to deal with similar situations in the future.

I entered panic mode for a few reasons.

I was actually working on a group assignment the instant my laptop suddenly faded to black, and my heart dropped knowing there’d be some long days ahead. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had issues with my laptop but I was particularly stressed about 3 things:

ordered relative to their induced stress.

Ironically, the things that caused me most tension, were of the least perceived priority. Put simply, I cared way more about my music then I did about my 3 assignments.

I was aware, though, that regardless of what I was most concerned about, I had certain deadlines that I felt I needed to meet, and so I tried to stay as focused as possible on finishing my work. I was lucky that everything, other than my music, was backed up to the cloud, so all I needed was a replacement laptop to get started working.

I wanted to ensure I was optimizing for concurrency, so the first thing I did was file an issue with my company’s IT department seeking a new machine. The process went along for a few days as I went back and forth with an IT representative. I had conveyed that I had spent a few hours performing the standard MacBook diagnostic and recovery processes, with no luck. They still insisted I try them again, so I did, again, with no luck. I did all of this, within the first few hours of the mishap.

I had scavenged through my closet and pulled out my old, mid-2012, MacBook Pro.

I had booted it up, and after a relatively slow start up, had a working laptop to get started on my assignments.

Truthfully, though, I didn’t do much work.

I had adopted a victim-like mentality and justified my inaction by claiming a lack of a fully functioning laptop, or that I didn’t have the same setup I was working on.

I was uncomfortable with the change, and was justifying lack of adaptability on the circumstance.

Phrases like “how am I supposed to work now”, or “why did this have to happen today”, embody, nicely, the attitude or outlook I possessed.

My mind was in a very negative space, and I knew I wouldn’t be productive. I knew I needed to interject, mentally, and reassess the situation and what was most important at the time.

I knew at that very moment, the most helpful thing I could do was to meditate.

So I did.

I left my work, found a spot on my floor and entered a fairly intense meditative state. I was feeling extremely flustered, mentally, and having experienced the derived clarity of meditation, I knew it would be a great medium to get me back to a healthy area.

It helped significantly.

Through deep breathing and recalibration, a few things became crystal clear.

  1. I’m grateful to be in this situation
  2. I can and will adapt to the circumstance
  3. To harp on something that is seemingly uncontrollable is a waste of time

I performed my go-to exercise outlined in this post. I wanted to look at this experience that was seemingly causing me tension and stress at the time, and truly understand the requirements of feeling this stress. Upon doing so, I felt humbled as I gauged my level of privilege.

This situation hinged on many things like:

To feel stress that my laptop stopped working satisfies the implication that I possess a laptop in the first place, though not one that becomes apparent in the moment.

When your laptop crashes, we rarely say, “well at least I have a laptop, for this to take place on”.

We tend to spiral into a slope of stress, and this is a point of improvement for future situations.

Further, the laptop has been issued by my work, so I’m extremely privileged to not have had a financial burden associated with this transaction. Again, in the moment, these aren’t things that are clear, but it’s helpful when they are brought to the forefront.

Similarly, my issue was rooted in the idea that I wasn’t comfortable or used to working on my admittedly, old and clunky, 8-year old laptop.

On reflection though, this problem, itself, is filled with fortune.

I possessed a backup laptop. That, in and of itself, renders this whole problem miniscule. Of course, it didn’t feel that way, while in it. Had I possessed the presence of mind to actively feel grateful in the moment, the stresses following would’ve been reduced as well.

Tension and stress are factors that are solely based on individual perception, so I find it extremely important to breakdown and analyze what has causes me stress in the past, to ameliorate and setup mental tripwires to avoid mimicking these behaviours.

In this case, it’s extremely important to ground yourself, and think about the event in the context of the bigger picture.

While in it, it truly feels like the assignments mean everything, or the music means everything, but this is simply not the case.

In fact, I’d argue it’s obvious it’s not the case, but training yourself to recognize this as quickly as possible is the skill that needs to be built up – for me at least.

What’s especially ironic about the situation is that I ended up recovering my music, anyways.

I reached out to my brother, and he aided in isolating a recovery path that led straight to my data. I was able to backup it to a USB, and well, I still got my music.

It ended up being a win-win-win situation, because, I recovered the files that meant most to me, I got my new laptop from my company within a few days, and I learned a lot from the experience. Also my new laptop is space gray, so that helps.

It’s important to outline actionable learning items. Here are mine:

  1. Stress and tension is at your command. We perceive situations, and induce the associated stress or tension.
  2. Nothing is ever as good, or bad, as it seems.
  3. At the root of your problems is a set of things to be grateful for.
  4. Lean into meditative, mental reflections in stressful times, as early as possible.
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