river dam, maggie mcreynolds blog

In Recovery

“Low Disk Space!” said the error message on my laptop. “You are running out of disk space on your recovery drive! Delete old or unnecessary files!”

I had been getting this message every three or four minutes for over a week, ever since a failed back-up attempt. I had tried clicking where it said to click, deleting the files it suggested I delete, and reinitiating a back-up, but still the error message kept flashing, infuriating in its persistence. I had far too much to do to figure out how to make it go away.

See, that’s the thing, I was busy. I had deadlines, both external and internal, and I had my hands full with flogging myself to meet them. There wasn’t time to cook dinner, or eat healthily, or exercise, or meditate. There wasn’t time to read, or watch TV, or go for a walk. I had important things to do, urgent things. I was taking care of business.

Except, of course, that I wasn’t. Sure, I was attending to the mechanics of my profession, but I wasn’t taking care of the only true resource I have: myself. I was running out of gas, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it. But I had the crazy idea that if I just drove faster, I could get where I was going before I emptied the tank.

And so it went, until one day a friend called. I had been working away on my laptop and trying to ignore both the insistent recovery drive error message and the stabbing pain between my shoulder blades, and it was all I could do to force myself to pick up the phone. It couldn’t have been a satisfying conversation; I think the only communication I was capable of was a high-speed recitation of my to-do list. Then my friend asked me to consider: how long did I think I could keep this up? A month? Maybe a month and a half? What would happen to that business I considered so pressing when I ran out of not just steam, but me?

I took a breath, and then another. They felt like the first full breaths I had taken in weeks. The pain in my back burned fiercely, and then softened, just a bit, enough for me to hear my friend urging me to do something for myself, to fill my tank in some way. I’d like to say that I stopped working that day, then and there. I didn’t. In fact, after I hung up the phone, I continued to work for several more hours. But the error message finally got to me. I pushed back my chair, ran my hands over my face, and asked the child within what she wanted to do, just for her, just because.

She didn’t have big demands. She wanted an ice cream cone, and she wanted to see the dam. So I bought a scoop of Triple Chocolate, and took a walk along the river, where the sheer power of the water cascading through the locks of the dam pushed all the chattering monkey thoughts from my mind. I sat on a park bench and looked at the calm water on the other side of the dam, and at the tiny houses across from me where a few people were moving about, working in their gardens and readying their boats for spring. The sun warmed my face and my spirit. It felt like giving myself a steadying, much-needed hug.

I worked some more when I got home, and I noted with some amusement that the recovery drive error message that I’d been seeing every three minutes had mysteriously disappeared. I had, it would seem, deleted a sufficient number of old and unnecessary files and behaviors.

Do I think the universe was sending me secret messages via Windows Vista? Not really—though I wouldn’t entirely rule it out, because the universe is a pretty weird and woo woo kind of place if you really open your mind to it. I do think it was a fascinating reminder to take care of my real business, the business of making a life that works and nourishes and sustains.

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