Held up by invisible strings

This week, I had a bit of a day. It was never going to be a good day because it’s the anniversary of my Dad dying but I was ready for that. I wasn’t so prepared for the rest of it. I work at home, and I logged on early to make up some time as I had to pop out to the doctor later that morning with someone in my family. I couldn’t log in, couldn’t work and spent an hour and a half on the phone to the helpdesk before I had to leave to make the doctor’s appointment… which I did by running right across town. 

The doctor’s appointment took longer than planned and was not good news. Not terrible news, not impossible to surmount but upsetting and stressful and altogether a bit emotional. However, I’m behind on my work from the IT problems, I’ve got freelance work to do which is essential for paying the bills, so I put that aside, promise to return later that evening, get back in my car and head home. The work IT problem hadn’t been solved in my absence and appeared impossible to do remotely, so I let that go, suggest I’ll head into the office the next day to get it fixed and make up my hours, and think I’ll just focus on the freelance stuff, on my own laptop.

A couple of weeks ago, my broadband was cut thanks to an administrative error and I’m still waiting to have it fixed. However, I’m zen about that - I’ve got my phone, so I link that to my computer and off I go. Then the phone dies. Now I have no broadband, no way of getting my work done and no way of calling anyone to help. I panic a bit. Cry. Scream. Then I recognise I have to calm down, think of my headspace app as the perfect way to give me some time out and laugh bitterly when I remember it’s on my phone. I drive back into town hoping the shop can give me a quick fix.

The time in the shop also took longer than planned and was not good news. After my phone couldn’t be revived, I had to go through getting a new phone. When I finally walked out, I was connected again to the world, but had none of my apps or settings that help me keep in touch with people. Then I spent some time reconnecting my various email addresses, apps etc. and patchworked all my contacts and settings back together as best I could. I now have an hour, so I work away, hunched in a coffee shop, and then off I go to my family.

By the time I get home, it’s 8.30 and I’ve got a whole day’s work to do. I do as much as I can, remind myself I can work on the train early the next morning before I head to the office for my other job. Just as I go to bed, my old phone springs to life. I don’t know what I was meant to do, but I laughed for a really long time.

It all made me realise just how reliant I am on technology. I appreciate that’s a choice, but that’s not the whole truth. I need broadband to make a living. I need to be in touch with people because of what’s happening in my life at the moment. I am very happy for people who choose to switch off and disconnect, but there’s a great deal of privilege that comes with that and I don’t have the advantages needed for that option.

All this made me think about the invisible strings that hold my life together – broadband, the miracle of all that my phone contains – and realised that at least there were others that couldn’t be so easily severed or disrupted. My family are good, supportive people. My friends are always there for me, even those who live far away. On the drive home, the music in my car lifted me up and kept me going. I told myself this was a bad day, I’ve had worse and got through them so there I am, my own support, another string, or perhaps a rod of steel right down my spine. Love, art and my own determination got me through, and they will again.

Pinocchio may claim that his strings hold him down but I realised this week there are plenty of strings on me, and they hold me up. I’m grateful to them all, including this incredible cover which came on in my car at just the moment when I needed it the most.