Annie Clark (St. Vincent) gave me the theme for today’s post—not spoken into my ear, exactly, but through a podcast on Bob Boilen’s wonderful All Songs Considered NPR show. She was quoting a writer whose name escapes me. Forgive me as I paraphrase…

“Through immense technology comes emotional freedom.”

Hmmmm. Strange to ponder that idea from a vantage that looks out happily on a river swirling with morning mist and the prism-rainbows on the walls; a place of nights visited by no human sound. The quote is the farthest thing from the Reality of Me. And the closest.

I remember my first typewriter, a tiny portable in a powder blue case, given as a gift to the already-blossomed writer in the nine-year-old me. I remember IBM Selectrics, and the wonder of buying one new. I remember my resisting entry into the world of computers—a Commodore, also a gift, an extraordinarily generous one, from my Brooklyn friend, Mike. I remember my first laptop. And my second. And this one…the best and most cherished of them.

I have come to technology unwillingly. I clung to my notebooks as to the proverbial life-preserver in the huge ocean of words…I still do. And my laptop is the thing I could no longer live without.

The truest thing I have learned from the mysterious gadget is a greater fearlessness in rewriting. One writes…one considers a better way at the passage…and—guess what?—the previous work doesn’t need to go away. Paragraph, section, chapter, whole book: The writer gets to keep them in that wondrous place that takes up little space.

Sounds like a duhhhh moment. Isn’t. Not for me.

After years of clinging to multiple printed versions of stuff I haven’t looked at in years, after spending several afternoons trying to figure out what could be stuffed into the tall filing cabinet and what could be tossed, this is a revelation like sunrise in my head. Pages and pages and images and images now fit into a palm drive hardly bigger than a deck of cards.

The steward of the just-in-case. A guardian against lapse of judgment. The lab for wild experimentation. The permission to fail insanely, yet live to write another day. The paradigm of my life has shifted. And my emotions have gone along for the ride. Between laptop and the serenity of the river, I am like these guys…as happy as a cat in sunshine.

 

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