Yesterday, as I walked down to the Mississippi in fake February springtime, I thought about the phone calls I hadn’t made during the week, and the protest at the State Capitol that I hadn’t gone to and the blog posts I hadn’t written. I thought about the disaster in the White House and the danger in the legislature and all the things I meant to do and how, even if I hadn’t failed this week, I wouldn’t have made a difference. I felt like my brain was flashing computer error messages: this page will not load. 404. Unable to connect. Problem retrieving data. File not found. Insufficient memory. 404.
At that point, I remembered what I’m supposed to do when the computer starts misbehaving. Power down. Unplug. Re-start. Maybe it will work for my brain, too.
Powering down the computer, is easy. All I have to do is click on “Shut down” or hold down the power button. If I’m running 16 applications and have 21 browser windows open, they all shut down. I am no longer simultaneously reading the news and writing a letter and checking my email and clicking on Facebook messages that pop up in the corner of my screen. Powering down my brain is not quite as easy, but I can at least get to sleep mode.
Years ago, our television stopped working. We called a repair person. He came, unplugged the television from the wall socket, waited a minute, plugged it back in – and it worked. We got a lecture about always unplugging, and how important a first step that is in troubleshooting any electrical device with a problem. Why doesn’t it work to just turn off the television, radio, computer, printer? I don’t know, but I did absorb the importance of unplugging. So, for 24 hours, I didn’t look at Facebook or Twitter or the news. (Well, I cheated a little bit on the news. But not much.)
Monday starts a new work week. I may have screwed up last week. I may have failed to meet the goals I set for myself. I may not have saved the world. Tomorrow I can re-start. A new week is a new chance. Next week, I will write those letters, get to a meeting or a protest, make my phone calls. Next week, I will try again. And next weekend, I will try to remember to power down, unplug, and re-start.