Dear St. Anthony,
I’ve lost my _______,
And it can’t be found.
That was the prayer-poem we were taught when we were very, very young and trying to locate a toy, or shoe, or homework assignment that had been misplaced. In the Catholic Church, St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost articles (extrapolate and extend metaphors as needed), and the prayer seemed to work. At any rate, it alleviated anxiety and allowed us to focus on finding what we’d lost, but I’ve never discounted the energy of holy mystery and its role in easing life’s burdens, either.
I’ve been reciting the Prayer to St. Anthony this past week, not in search of my mind, which I sometimes think would be a recommended “best practice,” but in search of a novel begun and stored on my computer and then one day accidently deleted or carried over to the trash bin. Poof. Lost. Without any recollection on my part. This is proof that age doesn’t automatically yield wisdom: I certainly know my manuscripts should be backed-up and stored on a flash drive and/or in a cloud. (Would that sentence have made any sense at all a few years ago?) But my new computer seemed so strong and safe; I relied upon it and let down my guard.
I forgot to practice safe text.
Writers will sympathize with the torment and agony this causes; the loss is real and deep. The child of my creativity is alone, abandoned, and floating somewhere in the ether. I can’t retrieve it…I can’t duplicate it. All the work; all the magic…gone.
My husband took the hard drive to the local computer doctor, who has been running searches for the past week; so far, unsuccessfully, but I haven’t surrendered all of my hope yet. Maybe St. Anthony will help me find my story. If not the actual document, perhaps I’ll be inspired to re-create it anew. Still too heartsick.
Damn! I loved the way it flowed, and I had so finely polished the words; each was a jewel, artistically conformed to the mood, setting, and action and poetry. The characters were distinct and intriguing…oh dear; even writing this hurts.
And on top of the loss, to be without a computer for days and days was initially like lemon juice on an open wound. I felt like I was floating free in the ether myself. The lack of my computer seemed to expand the day by innumerable hours. Had I really spent all that time checking e-mail, writing, visiting Facebook, reading links…?
I’d thought my days were fairly silent; I believed I wrote in stillness all day long. I discovered, though, that my hours had been full of the endless chatter the world creates and thrives upon. My computer was like some techno-umbilical cord connecting me to the constant stream of the world’s anxious head-noise.
Without it, I had time to enter my meditation space and stay for an hour. Meditating. I wrote in longhand, wandered and weeded in the gardens, meditated some more, and still had plenty of time to complete my share of our family’s tasks…and all of this in real, deep silence. Unplugged. Listening.
I had no idea until I lost my computer how silent silence could be. I knew this once, but I forgot. Technology seduces us and even when we think we’re being mindful, we’re enticed, led into reliance upon its endless connections and the desire to keep in touch. I HAVE to know what is occurring in the world now, and now, and now…
No; I don’t.
Phillip gifted me with a little (as in Lilliputian) notebook this weekend, so I can write and post, and e-mail. I appreciate it, but I don’t want to lose the lessons this past week taught me, lessons I thought I’d already mastered, but hadn’t. Twice a week, I plan to refrain from turning on any computer.
I learned again that moments of deep healing can come when we are silent and our spirit is deeply still. We can enter a space where everything we’ve ever been, and dreamed, and suffered, and where everyone we’ve ever loved lives, and waits for us to meet their energy and be with them.
I lost my story last week, and I lost a very precious friend. He was 86 and had been my spiritual director for several years. This will be a deeper grief to heal, a longer journey in the landscape of loss. But I know again that when I travel in silence to the still point in my heart, I’ll find my story and my friend. Both of them are there, alive, forever.
Thanks, St. Anthony.