Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Defragmenting the Hard Drive

Two nights ago I remembered.

I remembered that when the computer gets really sluggish, takes forever to open files, or refuses to cooperate with some requests, it's time to defragment the hard drive. We've had this computer for four years, so first of all, I'm thankful that it still functions as well as it does. Even though it hasn't been defragmented in these four years, we've never had a crash or major problem with it - thank God.

But on Monday night I remembered. First I asked the hard drive to analyze itself, and after a very few seconds, up popped a multi-colored rectangle. Red for fragmented files. Blue for contiguous files. Green for unmoveable files. White for free space. Turns out the computer is 70% full - which concerns me anyway. But the good news is that there is still 30% of free space.

The computer recommended that I defragment it. I clicked the button, and the process began. Slowly. Imperceptibly. I sat and watched those little lines shift and reshift for nearly half an hour - only 3% complete. Forget it, I told myself, this is going to take all night. So I went to bed. In the morning, all I saw were big chunks of blue and white, as well as two very small green pieces. Unmoved.

I logged onto the internet. Fast. Found my email. Fast. Read a few blogs I like. Fast. Played a game or two. Fast. Efficient. Computing was enjoyable again. And fast.

I must admit that I'm feeling a little sluggish these days. Taking longer than necessary to find things I need. Not answering emails, letters, phone messages, or even my children's questions as quickly as I used to. Not following up when requests are made -and sometime freezing mid-task. Crashing while folding clothes, cooking dinner, and training the dog - all at the same time.

It's time to defragment my own hard drive. To take a good long look at the fragmented files - the date nights with Steve that have been hijacked by sporting events, meetings, and parental obligations. I need to consider the contiguous files - the things that are holding together, but only barely. Things like keeping the house in order, getting prepared for the holidays, and church obligations. And then there are the unmoveable files - the stuff that has to happen no matter how I'm feeling: homeschooling, feeding the family, making sure Maya gets fed and that the cars have gas are just a few of those.

Like the computer, I need a good overnight (or weekend session) to begin to put the pieces back together, to reinforce the foundation under this life which sometimes seems to shift unexpectedly, to reevaluate the unmoveable stuff, to remind myself of what matters most, and put as many files as possible back together and back where they belong.

When I told Kristiana about defragmenting the computer, I explained to her how files tend to get split up and the computer takes longer to do ... blah, blah, blah. Her eyes glazed over. Always seeking to keep my explanations relevant to their lives, I gave her this example: Imagine trying to get dressed in the morning, but your shirts are in the laundry room, your pants are in the family room, your socks are in the kitchen, your belt is in the living room, and your undergarments are in the dining room. (One thing to consider is that the house is too big, but that's a whole nother blog.) That's not a very efficient way to get yourself dressed, is it? Being the fashionista that she is, she understood that.

And that's a lot like how I feel these days. The garments that cover my life, my soul's wardrobe are tossed here, there and beyond. Not enough organization sometimes. Too much at other times. Not enough down time some days. And wasted time on other days. So I've decided to do some defragmenting of my own hard drive.

Yesterday, I "sternly" told the kids to follow me into the family room. Daniel was in the middle of making lunch, and Kristiana was reading. (Yes, they make their own lunch, well-trained children that they are!) I've very rarely stern with them, so I got their attention quickly. Confused and a little distressed, they obeyed. (Yes, they obeyed.) Once we got in there, I smiled and said, "Let's dance." Daniel had put on a really fun Ricky Martin song before lunch, so we danced. Formed a conga line. Sang. Laughed. Got a little sweaty.

Then, she went back to reading. He went back making his sandwich. I went back to whatever I'd been doing. And I felt like one fragmented file was on its way to being contiguous again: three small pieces of the "laugh and dance with the kids" file had been restored.

There are a few unmoveable files that, in fact, cannot neither be removed nor moved. But there's a lot fewer of those than I'd like to believe. Plus, if I surround those ominous green slivers of my life with lots of blue chunks, with things that are going as well as they can, then those slivers will feel a lot smaller than they do at the moment, when so much of my life feels like fragments of fragile glass patched together with rubber cement.

So off I go. Time for bed. Time to put my heart and mind into defragmenting mode during the night watch. Hopefully when I awake, a few more red files will be blue.

The objective, however, isn't to speed through life the way my computer seems to be speeding through its paces these days. I will settle for more enjoyment of my life. More peace. More patience. And more time to dance with the kids in the family room before lunch.

Here's to defragmenting.
Declaring a truce within ourselves.
And all the other great words we can think of that start with

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