What to Do When Typing is on the NOT-to-Do List

Last week I mentioned a slight problem I’ve been having with my shoulder. It hurts, a lot, when I use a computer mouse. And it got to the stage when it hurt, a lot, just to type, to hold a cup of tea or try to write freehand. When it got to that stage, I knew I had to take action!

On Thursday, I decided to go cold-turkey and stop using the laptop for a few days. Three days. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but I found it difficult because most of the things I enjoy doing are on the computer — writing, internet activities, playing games, researching all kinds of stuff, family tree investigations. It was like we had no electricity for three days. Everything I wanted to do involved a computer. It proved how dependent I’ve become on the thing.

Friday was the worst day. I went through a bad withdrawal period. At one stage I realised I was standing at the door of the room where my computer is, staring at it wistfully and that’s when I realised something else. I need a life! In the afternoon, I went to work for my allotted five hours and got to use a computer but it was only for work stuff, which is so boring, so that didn’t appease me in any way. It was late when I got home and I was tired so I sat in the lounge room reading an ebook on my iPod Touch.

On Saturday morning, I was awake before the birds and continued reading. After an hour or so I got a bit fidgety and that’s when I discovered something new. Of course I knew I could use the iPod Touch to go on the internet, but what I discovered is Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and probably every other big name on the internet has developed an app for the Apple store. Which meant, I could send status updates, check other people’s updates and write posts for my blogs. Brilliant!

As soon as I knew I could do something that was “out-of-bounds” I no longer HAD to do it. And that opened the door for me to do other things.

We moved into this house two years ago. We still had two huge boxes of books that we had not unpacked as we had nowhere to put the books. So what started out as a simple mission to tidy my bedroom up, ended up being a major clean out. Heavens, I was ruthless!

Apart from the two unpacked boxes, I also had a large pile of books (30 or so books) piled up on the floor. I decided to go through my book shelves, discarding the books I’d read and knew I wouldn’t read again and getting rid of the books that I hadn’t read and knew I would never read. I estimate about 25 books ended up in this pile, which meant the pile of books on the floor were finally to be moved to a place on a shelf. When I went through the books on the floor, I discovered I had doubles too, which meant a couple more books ended up on the discard pile.

G, seeing an opportunity, then reminded me about the two boxes of unpacked books. I looked at the newly arranged book shelves and could plainly see that there was no more room. When I mentioned this, G went to the book shelf and pulled out one book.

“You’ll never read this,” he said.

“I might,” I replied.

“We both know you won’t,” he said. He pulled another book out. “Same with this one. You’ve culled but haven’t culled enough.” He paused. “If you don’t unpack those boxes you’ll never read those books either so I may as well get rid of them along with the discard pile.”

Alarm bells flashed. Was he serious? I couldn’t even remember what books were in the boxes but I knew I couldn’t allow them to be discarded! No way!

I was aching from the work I’d done that morning, but we are talking about books and I had to attempt to save as many as possible even though I knew in my heart he was just bluffing. But he had a point. If I didn’t even know what was in the boxes, there was no way I was going to read the books they held. It was time the boxes were unpacked.

Half an hour later I had books piled up everywhere. The house looked like a bomb had hit it leaving books of every size, genre and shape laying in its wake. The books in the boxes where even better than the ones lining the book shelves. There was no possibility that I would allow them to go on to the discard pile. And I definitely couldn’t leave them piled up all over the house. So more culling had to take place.

It seemed like an impossible task but once I let myself acknowledge which books I really did want to keep and which books were being kept for keeping sake, the job became easier and now the discard pile holds about 75 books.

Making room meant I also threw out other stuff, mainly clothes I no longer wear and nick nacks I’ve had for many years that serve no purpose other than collecting dust. The bedroom was cleaned from top to bottom, as was the lounge room and eventually, late in the evening, I even made it into the computer room and cleaned out my desk. I couldn’t believe how many backup discs I had stashed away, most of them the old 3 1/2 inch floppy disks, which I can’t even access these days. And, old versions of printed manuscripts were stacked in neat piles, held together with long lengths of ribbon. Over the next couple of days I’ll be shredding those manuscripts!

Today the house looks and feels neater and cleaner. As for that pile of books I’m discarding, I was going to sell them online but I don’t have the time or the inclination to be bothered running up to the post office when a book or two sells — if they sell. Besides, I want the pile gone and I don’t think it will be worth my while trying to sell them. I could take them to a second hand book shop, get a credit on them and buy more books (which I don’t have room for), but I’ve decided to donate them to our local library. Our library is stuck in the old-days and needs something new. What doesn’t end up on the shelves will be sold and they will use the money to buy new books, and I’m happy with that.

Not being able to type made me look for other things to do and I’m pleased with the outcome. I should ban myself from the computer more often. 😀

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