People Are the Universe

by Jane Devin on 05/06/2011

I think it’s strange when people attribute every human experience to some godly, universal, or cosmic force. With billions of people on the planet, it’s hard to believe that anything would be capable of, or find value in, that kind of intense micromanagement. In other words, if your dog escapes from your backyard and gets hit by a car, or someone spills a hot cup of tea on your foot, I don’t think that God, The Universe, or Karma has caused the event in order to teach you some profound life lesson. Sometimes, things just happen. Good and bad, wonderful and tragic, human and circumstantial.

That’s not to say that I’m not wired to believe in the mystical. When all the pieces fell into place for me to write my book, and other people told me that the Universe wanted to make it happen for me, I readily agreed. It really did feel like there was some higher power shuffling the deck and throwing me just enough winning hands to finish the memoir that I’ve wanted to write for at least a decade.

Yet this week, my MacBook’s hard drive crashed. Twice. The first time, the Apple store repaired the disk and backed up my files on a thumb drive. The second time, the disk was fried. It was then that I learned that the backups were corrupt—two months worth of rewrites and edits were presumably gone, along with everything else I’d written, photographed, and uploaded.

My wonderful new roommate, Jessica, suggested that maybe the Universe wanted me to start over again. I almost cried. I think it would be a rather cruel joke if the Universe had let me get so far only to take away most of what it had given.

I did cry at the Apple store, particularly when one of their geniuses told me that if I wanted to save my book I’d have to go to a data recovery specialist and pay up to $2000 to get the information off of my dead disk. It didn’t help when they told me that I should have bought a back up disk and been doing daily backups if my work was that important to me. Of course I should have. I should have also used an online service like Carbonite to back up my documents. I didn’t do either and it was stupid. Having no disposable income is stupid, too, but it’s not all that uncommon among struggling writers.

When Jessica met me at the Apple store I was an anxious, bleary-eyed mess. “My brother Drew is good at computers,” she said. “Let me give him a call.” A few minutes later, we were heading to his workplace to drop off what felt like the majority of my life—my MacBook, the old hard drive, the thumb drive with corrupt files—everything I have written in the past couple of years, including my book. I felt naked, vulnerable, and hopeful all at the same time.

Two hours later, Drew called Jessica with the news that he had recovered everything. The charge to me would be $100, not $2000.

And the reason I had $100 is because of another human being, who believes in my work and who has been incredibly supportive.

And the reason I’ve been able to work on the book so diligently is because a handful of friends have offered me shelter, seen me through the rough patches, and lent encouragement when most needed.

I don’t know what the mystical Universe has in mind for me or for the future of Elephant Girl, but today I am most grateful to the very real human beings who seem to make even the unlikeliest of things possible.




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