Sydney Avey

Dynamic Women — Changing Times

Disaster: The day I drowned my MacBook Air

Aug 7, 2018 | Culture, Learning curve, Writing life | 2 comments


Disaster upends daily routine and resets expectations to a default, anything-could-happen mode.

Disaster is the worst kind of distraction. Disasters upend daily routine and reset expectations to a default, anything-could-happen mode. 

I dumped a drink on my MacBook Air. In animated conversation with my husband my knuckles caught the rim of a tall-stemmed glass. The glass slid across the granite countertop, teetered at the edge of my computer, and crashed onto the keyboard spilling its contents into tiny crevices around the keys. 

I tried every resuscitation method I could think of; I killed the power; turned the computer over and tried to shake the liquid out; left it upside down to drain; recharged and tried to reboot. My machine did not respond.

The young man at the Genius Bar took my lifeless Mac behind closed doors and performed an autopsy. He pronounced the area beneath the keys dry but the liquid pooled around the battery will require reconstructive surgery. Now my little Mac is headed to Houston for the procedure.

When my Mac wakes up, it’s not clear how much of his data he will remember. The multiple strategies I have in place to recover files are a mystery to me. If they work, it will be a miracle. My carelessness has caused me to think about the tenuous hold we have on the tools and resources on which we depend.

Our digital identity

These days, writing isn’t all about putting pen to paper, channeling the muse, and letting perfect sentences flow. It’s a  composition process of creating and moving blocks of text around to fit the digital formats that various projects require. Writing is my calling—my creative expression—but it is also my work. I can happily exercise my calling in a paper notebook, but a body of work wants immortality. Let’s face it; we want something of ourselves to last forever. We want a digital footprint that doesn’t blow away like sand.

The works of our hands pass from generation to generation through great efforts to preserve what has been written, spoken, performed, painted, and more. In the past, creative works were curated by libraries and museums. Today, technology provides the means to digitize and preserve a massive number of books, musical scores, artwork, etc. 

In effect, our digital world has leveled the playing field. We now have access to a huge store of creative output that varies in quality. Also, the digital revolution has empowered virtual reality. A trip to a library, art gallery, museum, or concert hall, is no longer necessary. Identify yourself by a user name and password and virtually anything and everything is available for viewing.

Our dystopian angst

Recent news about cyber system threats invite us to consider what would happen should our communication channels go dark, permanently or just long enough to accomplish some nefarious purpose. That possibility is at once frightening and thrilling. Frightening because of all the external supports we would lose, leaving us highly vulnerable; thrilling because we would be left to our own devices, those internal resources that rely on the power of spirit and imagination. 

Perhaps this is why the younger generation is reading fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism. These are genres that exercise the imagination. What you see may not be all that exists. 

I’ve always thought of my computer as a brain I use to store and retrieve my thoughts (documents), record my experiences (photos), and manage my communications and relationships (apps). This temporary loss is not a disaster. I can limp along with my other devices, but they aren’t as powerful. No matter; I am grateful for the time to take a breather and reflect on my electronic dependency.

In a week or so I will likely be back in business. If my full set of data isn’t restored, then I’m in for an adventure. Even so, it will be a pale imitation of the inevitable adventure that waits at the end of my life, when memory fades and brain cells fail. Who will I be then?

Note: My MacBook Air is home now. All its major organs received transplants except the hard drive, where my data was stored. I am back in business!



    WHEW – this is an adventure I would prefer not to take. Your attitude is a wise one that appears to have experienced loss in the past. That is how we grow and become stronger. Thanks for sharing and God bless!!

    • yosemitesyd

      We seem to have a lot of ourselves invested in our tools, don’t we? Thanks for leaving a comment, Shelly.


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