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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss


In the process of upgrading my computer recently I had to go through the tedious process of waiting long periods of time for software to download, followed by even longer intervals while the software was installed and, ultimately, I had to reboot the computer for the changes to go into effect. If you have ever had to do the same you know it is not especially enjoyable but requires some attention to detail lest you make an unrecoverable error and watch your work vanish forever.

The hour or so I spent seemed several times longer which gave me time to think about a few things. I was properly impressed by the degree to which computer manufacturers and software designers have tried to make the process as simple as possible, saving us where they can from self-inflicted damage. At the same time, I found in the reboot process itself a metaphor for transformation. What would it be like if we could as easily reboot ourselves and wake up from it made anew? How would it feel to be unburdened of all the old and wearisome baggage we carry around with us? Would we miss our old selves, or go on without a care, forming new memories, learning new things and creating new relationships?

At some point or another many of us may have thought about a new beginning, I know I have. Not because I was unhappy, but I wondered about the life not lived—the experiences I had not had and how my life might have unfolded if….. I suspect some of you may have had similar thoughts. I know I would miss those relationships and the experiences that have shaped me. And, I have no idea whether a different path might not have brought me to a similar place in my life. Be that as it may, I am content with where I am. I have a few regrets as most of us do and given the chance to re-do parts of my life I might be tempted. Still, the only reboot I would relish is one that allowed me to retain the essential me—the accumulation of life experience and the people whom I have known and loved.

Some people claim a reboot—the experience of being reborn. I am happy for them. I have not been reborn, although I do know what it is to feel as if your life has started over again. I have had that experience a number of times though never willingly. Still, the outcome has generally been good even if the cause wasn’t always what I might have wanted for myself.

What I found is perhaps worth passing along. Keep the friends and experiences that matter, let go of the things in yourself and around you that don’t. Easy to say, hard to do. Separating out the part of ourselves and our experiences that are worth holding onto requires some careful and objective thinking. We can’t exactly erase the disc and just start with a fresh self. We do tend to bring everything with us so we need to evaluate. Who are the people that value us and whom we value? What experiences shaped our character for the better, and which turned us down an unproductive path? We might be tempted to clean house and rid ourselves of painful memories, but sometimes they are what we should hold onto. In any event, it is very difficult to simply let go of the relationships and experiences of our past, especially the negative ones, but we can with some effort decide that they no longer have any power over us. And that is the priceless reward for starting over.

If an occasion should arise that requires you to reboot, I hope you will use the experience to lighten your load of useless baggage, and renew the relationships and knowledge that have served you well. There is nothing like finding an old and treasured artifact as you are cleaning out the attic. Restore it and rediscover why you acquired it in the first place. However difficult this process can be I hope you will discover what I did, that despite a few wrong turns and missed opportunities you’ve managed to meet and love wonderful people, and shared experiences that you would not trade for any other. And I hope you’ll take that knowledge into the future with you wherever you are bound.

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