When faced with adversity, why not write a song about it? (scroll to bottom for the song)
One of my favorite things about living in Saigon is that often you get unlimited free green tea at restaurants and cafés.
(It’s not $7 massages! Surprise!)
The other day I was lounging in a comfy chair at one of my favorite cafes, sipping a coconut on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon. I was enjoying my green tea as I plopped down my laptop and began to start up some work.
After finishing my coconut, I asked the waitstaff to cut the coconut open, so that I could eat the meat inside. That’s one of my favorite parts about a coconut. Not only it is a beverage but it is also a snack, a delicious one at that.
Anyway, they gave me back the coconut. I was eating the meat inside with my spoon, I went to set the coconut down on the table behind my laptop. Little did I know, where I set the coconut happened to be the same location where my cup of iced tea was.
I’m not a physicist, but I know a bit about gravity. And when you drop a heavy object onto a cup, sometimes bad things happen...
The tea spilled over instantly. The entire table to be wet. SHIT.
The waitstaff ran instantly to clean it up as I picked up my laptop as soon as I could. I held my breath.
It seemed to be a miracle! My laptop didn’t even get wet, even though the table was soaking! I got a little bit on my shorts but my laptop was untouched. Whew.
I put my laptop back on the table after we cleaned it up and got back to work. A couple minutes later, my screen started turning black, flashing black black black. Next thing you know, my screen shut down completely. “Shit!”, I thought.
I examined my laptop closely and I realized it did get wet. Bedlam ensued.
I texted my friends and asked for advice. I started browsing on my iphone about what to do when you spill liquid on your laptop. I turned it off and waited.
I blew on it. I shook it down. I turned it on again. It restarted just fine….
Then the screen started to act up, turn grey, then purple, then black. Nothing.
I had no idea what to do. If I panicked, was it going to make the situation any better? The damage was already done. But this is my laptop. I’ve been working online as a freelance writer. I need my laptop to work. Without my laptop I won’t get paid. The negative thought spiral began.
I had a long list of things to do that afternoon. None of them could get done without my laptop.
I started to take a step back. I started to think how a stoic philosopher would approach this situation:
“Okay, what is the worst case scenario right now? Worst case scenario is, the laptop is broken and I will have to buy a new one. Not that inconvenient…. It’ll be expensive because the price could be higher here in Vietnam.”
It was the holiday the next day in Vietnam so I will have to wait for two days, spend two days without my laptop, no work. Well, that’s not the end of the world. In fact, that would allow me to focus on other areas in my life. This simple thought exercised calmed me down. I was okay.
But what got me frustrated wasn’t the worst case scenario of my laptop being broken, it was the fact that I had done this. I spilled iced-tea on my laptop because I was being lazy with my coconut. I love coconuts! When I think of coconuts I think about: vacation, beach, sexy girl, refreshing, tropical, and not BREAKING MY LAPTOP!
Now, I’ll be honest. I have a tendency of breaking my things. In fact, I don’t like buying expensive anything not just because I’m cheap but because I ended up losing it or breaking it.
It’s the same reason I don’t buy expensive clothes, hats, shoes, sunglasses, etc. but my laptop… I’m not going to walk around with a shitty laptop just because I am assuming I’m going to break it or spill on it one day.
It’s a nice Mac, I’ve had it for two years and it’s just too soon to see it go. It’d be like telling your parents you were moving away for college at 15. It’s just too soon.
I started to replay the scene in my mind over and over again, thinking about what an idiot I was.
“Why couldn't I have just taken my time eating the damn coconut!?”
I thought about how ungrateful I was 20 minutes ago to have this beautiful perfectly functioning laptop that was now fried!
I let it sit for a little bit. And I started to read on my phone on my kindle app. I couldn’t focus. 3 minutes into this book, I was still kicking myself for breaking my laptop. I couldn’t do it. I turned on my laptop again to see if it works. Nothing.
I went back to my house and told my girlfriend about what had happened. She could tell I was in a bad mood and I was taking it personally. I tried to communicate out loud what was going on. Saying things usually helps see the problem from an objective perspective.
I told her: “It’s okay, worst case I have to buy a new laptop”.
She snapped at me: “No, worst case scenario is you die!”
Okay, fair enough. If I died, I wouldn’t care about my broken Mac.
As ridiculous as her statement was, it got me to start thinking about how I could make this positive. How could I see the bright side of things?
See, at least I had a laptop. At least I could afford a new laptop if I absolutely need to buy it. At least I had paid work waiting for me as soon as I get my laptop fixed or recovered. At least I had access to mac repair shops and a girlfriend more worried about my death than my laptop.
Sadly, even though I thought these thoughts, it still didn’t work. I was devastated, gloomy, grumpy, disappointed, and upset.
So I went to the repair store and handed in my laptop. I watched this guy take apart my computer and I had no idea what was going on. Plus, he was speaking Vietnamese. I speak a little bit, but had no idea what he was saying. So I was just sitting there and waiting.
“Is it broken? Do I need to buy a new one? Is it fixable? Am I going to need a new part? How much is it going to cost?”
All these thoughts were running through my mind. But again, I still wanted to turn this into a positive experience. What can I do to turn this into a lesson learned or just something positive?
He mentioned that if it needed fixing, it would have to wait a few days. The next day was a Vietnamese holiday, which meant him and all his staff would spend the entire day drinking. The next day would be a recovery day and everyone would be tired.
What is this, college? Seriously? There was nothing I could do about it.
Instead, I tried to calm myself down by reminding myself that the situation was out of my control. All I could do was control my reaction. What could I do that would distract me?
The first thing came to my mind was to write. Just write something down by journaling or something. The first sentence I wrote down was the same line my girlfriend said: “At least you are not dead”.
Then I started to laugh. I wrote: “I spilled tea on my laptop, but at least I am not dead”. And I just kept writing and the next thing you know, I had a little bit of a poem/song.
I put my phone away and waited for the news.
The man said to me, while smiling, that I was lucky.
I asked, "Lucky for what?" He said: "You are lucky it is working". I don’t know what he did, but my laptop was working! HOLY @#^# @#$@# @#$% !!!!!!
So I spent all that time worrying, feeling sorry for myself, kicking myself for being foolish........ ALL for nothing.
He actually ended up fixing my mouse. I was happy to pay him to do that.
One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes goes like this,
“I’ve many worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
This was just a reminder to me about how people (myself included!) waste so much time worrying about stuff that’s out of their control. This is bad enough in itself, but add the fact that they may be worrying about stuff that won’t even happen just makes it even more ridiculous.
After about an hour, I walked out of the store, completely happy, satisfied and extremely grateful to have a working laptop. And on top of all of that, now I have a brand new song. I changed “tea” to “coffee” because I find it more relatable!
I spilled coffee on my laptop.
I know it’s not easy, but next time you catch yourself worrying about something that’s out of your control, take a step back and ask yourself, “Was Jeremy's laptop really broken?”
If that doesn’t work….
Try writing a song about it! :-D