The older I become, the harder it is for me to say goodbye. It has always been a problem. I do not let go easily, but lately it’s becoming more of an issue.
Our three kids are out of the house and on with their lives. We have dozens of plastic bins with clothes, toys, books and even school papers that we are having trouble letting go. We’ve told all three of our adult children to take them, but my daughter says, “Throw it all away. I don’t have room for them.” She’s truly a wonderful young woman, professional and mother, but not very sentimental. And of course, I could never bring myself to toss any of it.
My two sons are different. My oldest, Toby, is more like me and feels tied to his belongings but lives in a small California townhome and doesn’t have room. He insists he can’t take his things but equally insists we don’t throw them away. Our youngest son, Travis, also doesn’t have room to take them, insists we not throw them away but for a different reason. Travis sees online profit for his old toys … but never gets around to selling them. I can’t bring myself to dispose of any of it and they won’t take their things. I imagine some day when we downsize, I’ll be paying for storage for the things they don’t want but I can’t throw out or give away. Then after Arlene and I are gone, the monthly storage fee will not be paid and our storage garage full of things will be auctioned off on some cable channel series.
My obsessive sentimental attachment to things has sunken to new depths. My old laptop died. It had been sick and suffering for a year, but I kept nursing it along and trying to keep it going. Dog years are measured seven years to every human year. I am estimating that laptop years are 17 to one. So, my seven-year-old laptop was really 119 years old. It wanted to go. It was painful watching it try to work. It loved me. It wanted to please me, but it was no longer able.
It crashed last week. It would no longer hold a charge and the connection to the power cord was hit and miss. I had just finished last week's column when it shut down and I could not wake it. I left it overnight connected to the wall … hoping and praying that I’d awake in the morning and find it ready to go, but it was not to be. I sat on the floor with it and reminisced … I had written every column on this little laptop since column No. 1. I wrote my last book “The Final Service” on this loyal friend. Two screenplays were given life on this machine and two books in various stages of completion were stored on this aging hard drive.
I tried one last time to revive it and there was no response. My eyes teared as I looked at the plug on the wall. As I reached to disconnect it from the power source, I realized I was making the decision to take it off life support. Arlene walked into the room, saw me on the floor with my tears, rolled her eyes as only she can do and asked sarcastically, “What now?”
I looked up and said, “I have to take her off life support and I can’t.”
“Her?” Again, rolling her eyes, she asked. “Your laptop now has a gender?” She reached for the plug to rip it out of the wall and I grabbed her arm.
“No!” I could not expect someone else to do it. I had to man-up and it was time. I pulled my little aluminum writing partner for the last seven years onto my lap and said, “I’m so sorry,” … then pulled the plug.
It was a great old machine. I never named it as I had other laptops, in hopes that there would not be an attachment, but it didn’t matter. We became so close it would often complete my sentences, correct my grammar and even fix my spelling.
George Washington wrote in his will that he should not be buried until three days passed, in case he was only in a deep sleep. My old laptop is being provided the same courtesy. I am still hoping, like Lazarus, it will spring back to life. If not, it will be interred in the same drawer as my last three laptops. Alas, I cannot throw any of them out.
I’m sure there is a support group somewhere, or as they say, “an app for that.” Like those suffering from any other addiction or attachment, maybe I need to sit in a circle with others and confess, “My name is Gary.”
The room will respond, “Hi Gary.”
I’ll reluctantly confess, “I cannot say goodbye.” Then I’ll stand up and share my story with a room of people who, like me, share the same problem. They’ll understand.
“Fear not that something will come to an end …
but that something will never have a beginning”
The truth is, life is in a constant state of change. I have reinvented myself from musician to entrepreneur to CEO to speaker, author and columnist. I initiate and embrace the change as needed or inspired. I realize that the only constant in life is change, so I embrace it. But there is something about things that I have trouble letting go. I will move on, but I’ll never forget my old … wait …
Wow … this new laptop is fast!
GARY W. MOORE is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com