Whitley Gilbert from “A Different World” was known for her catch phrase: “Relax, Relate, Release.” It was a good lesson but I really didn’t pay much attention to it until I got to college. I had a friend who’d reference Whitley at the drop of a dime and you can’t talk about Whitley Gilbert without mentioning her three “r’s.” I always laughed at my friend’s impression because though she looked nothing like Whitley, (My friend was full figured, brown skinned and dressed more like Summer than Whitley.) she really managed to tap into her inner Gilbert when she imitated her. And whenever I was having a less than stellar day or an off moment, I’d think of friend flailing her arms and tossing her head back as she breathlessly recited the phrase, “Relax, Relate, Release” and I’d laugh.
Today turned out to be one of those wretched days. I woke up to find that my beloved computer refused to turn on. I’ve come to have a sick type of attachment to this machine. Probably because my livelihood, my goals, my entertainment, my connection to my family, friends and the outside world were associated with this MacBook Pro.
Notice I said were.
After about an hour on the phone with tech support, we learned that something was wrong with my hard drive and I would have to take it to the Apple Store. As I got myself ready to go, I thought, ‘what if they have to erase my hard drive?’ I was cool with that. All my valuables were in one place. And then I had a paralyzing moment. One thing wasn’t backed up anywhere else. I didn’t save this project, this makings of a masterpiece on a jump drive. I didn’t e-mail it to myself or anyone else. I didn’t store it in iCloud because, hell I don’t even know how to use iCloud. That admission was the beginning of the end.
Sure enough once I got to Apple they told me that my hard drive would have to be erased in order to get my computer working again. In all fairness, I could have had my files backed up but I would have had to leave the store or pay $100 just to get that one little nugget that I needed. I didn’t have time for that. I was supposed to be working…on my computer. I told them to erase away, with the hopes that maybe after the file would still be there. (The guy at the Apple’s genius bar told me there was a chance it might still be there.)
Once my computer came back on and I searched it, I realized no, it really was gone, like N’Sync. I begrudgingly left the store and on my way to the subway I fought unsuccessfully to keep myself from crying. The solitary tear that slid down my cheek was the stimulus I needed to start encouraging myself. “It’s ok. It’s ok.” I said it out loud, splitting myself so I could be the nurturing parent and inconsolable child at the same time. That made me feel a little better but I needed something else. So I tried my friend’s version of “Relax, Relate, Release.” But it didn’t work. I couldn’t release the project I’d labored over and poured myself into. It wasn’t going to work. I had to come up with a new catch phrase to deal with this predicament.
Being that I’ve loved alliteration since I first learned what it was, I knew I had to stick with the R’s. And that’s when it came to me.
Reflect, Reboot, Rebuild.
It was perfect.
I had to do some serious reflecting on why I didn’t back up my work, something that was so precious to me, when I know from prior experience just how fickle this technology we rely on can be. I had to reflect on my present sadness because I never want to feel this again. I have to do better.
But I couldn’t continue to wallow so I had to reboot. I couldn’t keep kicking myself for not having done it. It was over. And instead of hanging around the Apple Store mourning over the project I’d lost I had to adjust my attitude and move on.
And lastly I have to rebuild. Even though the project I’d so lovingly dedicated myself to for the past four months was dead and gone, I, the creator of that project am still here. If I had the ability to create then, I can create again, now with a couple more days worth of wisdom.
But this new catch phrase doesn’t just apply to my little computer situation. There have been countless times where life threw a curve ball, most times bigger than a failed hard drive. Times where I’ve had to find the lesson in a sucky situation. We all have a story like that and truthfully there are more curve balls ahead, for all of us. It’s going to be rough but I know I’m armed and ready to confront them and comfort myself with the new R’s.
Do you have a catch phrase to help you get through tough predicaments? Do share.
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