My Computer Crashed, and I Survived

Catherine reflects on a computer crash and packing up the last nine years

There are times the worst case scenario pops into your head. “Wouldn’t it suck if it rained on our picnic?” And then it does. This week I put my computer to sleep for an hour, and it never woke up the same. Just earlier that day I was thinking about how much a crash would jeopardize my work. And when it happened I was in disbelief over the coincidence. A computer crash is the most feared catastrophe for someone who is self-employed and relies on their beloved laptop for nearly everything.

My first thoughts were of the supposed devastation. My next were of a tinge of relief: in light of my move from Los Angeles to San Francisco, maybe I have a chance at starting fresh. Completely.

Just a few months ago, this incident would’ve put me into deep sadness or anger. Not to say that I didn’t feel a little bit of each after it happened, but I felt myself looking at the situation with more positivity than I am used to in these situations. (I am, after all, a Taurus who reacts with her emotions first.)

  • I recognized that it wasn’t the first time it’s happened to someone.
  • I accepted that if my files were in fact unrecoverable, there was nothing I lost that is the end of the world.
  • I still have my health and my loved ones, so what’s 2 years of computer memory?
  • I was celebrating one of my best friend’s birthdays the following day, and I didn’t want it to ruin my day, my mood, or anyone else’s. (By the way, her birthday was one of the most fun day trips I’ve had in a while.)

My dear friend JJ graciously offered to check out my laptop and attempt to fix it. After dropping it off in his care and feeling a little helpless about potentially losing my computer, I reflected and realized that the act of cleaning, cleansing, and renewal was a theme for me recently.

In preparation of my move, I spent the last 3 weeks discarding clothes I no longer wear, throwing out papers that I once thought I’d need later, donating items that I didn’t even realize were in my apartment. With every trip to the garbage shoot, with every bag of donate-able items packed, with every physical move of these things out of the apartment, I felt lighter.

I will not deny I am a hoarder. I am all about sentimental value, and if you looked around my room that is more than clear… This also goes for my iPhone (I have pictures from 2012 and rarely delete a text message) and my heart (I am the last person to move on). Cleaning out an apartment holding nine years worth of belongings, I got to a point where the sheer volume of things made me want to get rid of it all. But you really can’t just throw everything out unless you burn it… a) it can contain confidential information, b) it is wasteful to throw out things that someone else might use, or c) you may actually need it later. So you go through it. And you ask yourself why you kept a lot of it for so many years. So, too, with the emotional baggage that we hold on to.

We all have issues that at some point we recognize and hope to work through. And it’s very much like an apartment that you’ve lived in for years. You can easily put things in “their place” and forget they are there. Then you slowly run out of space to store what is now useful and necessary to you. It is not until you do an overhaul—taking out all the junk, sorting through it, and keeping only what you really need—that you can make room for the good that is coming your way.

Losing the data on my computer ended up feeling like a breath of new air. While I may have lost pictures and documents of memories that I hold dear, anything that matters is already a part of who I am. The potential tragedy forced me to pause and think about what else I was holding on to that no longer serves me becoming the best version of myself. I know that really letting go is the right way to move forward.


Now that you are probably afraid about the potential disaster that can hit your MacBook at any moment, please check out my friend JJ’s tips on backing up and prep for such an emergency.


Catherine Abalos is founder and editor of The Single Diaries.

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