Emotion for the loss of emotionless things doesn't have to make sense. Sometimes it's just nice to be grateful for the things that get us through life.
My much beloved and dearly missed Subaru, Zoe, died about a year-and-a-half ago. I think about her a lot. And I miss her so much, I still can’t look at the pictures my friend took before Zoe was unceremoniously hauled away.
When she died, I sat in my chair at home and wept. And I don’t mean a manly tear or two, I mean I all-out bawled. Zoe was 18, and she was always a great friend. When the mechanic told me that was it for her, it all washed over me how much I had been through with that car. Zoe was there when I got a new job. She was there to take me on vacations. She was there when I just needed to go for a drive and get away from things for a while. And she drove me from New Jersey to Texas to start a new chapter in my life.
This week I bought a new computer to replace the one I’ve had for 10 years. I never gave it a name and I’m not going to mourn it the way I mourn Zoe. But as I’m transferring the important things from one machine to another, it’s struck me how good a friend this ol’ tank of a PC has been to me. Through the very machine I’m writing this epitaph on, I have explored my creativity in dozens of new ways ‒‒ making music, making films, writing poetry; cataloguing my joys and my losses; exploring and dismissing new possibilities for what my life could be.
This computer has been the very instrument through which I have been able to work, doing what I love doing. It’s provided me with a living, it’s connected me with friends and led me to new ones.
It’s kept me entertained. It’s been a respite when I’ve had a bad time of things. It’s introduced me to new ideas and new ways of thinking. It’s kept me company in the darker moments of my life. It’s how I found my house, and it’s how I found my dog.
Without this very machine, well, yeah, all of these things I’ve said would probably be true. A computer is, after all, just a tool, not much different than a hammer in some ways. A vehicle through which a task is performed.
That’s the thing about emotion, though, isn’t it? It doesn’t always make much logical sense. And lest you fear for my psychological health, I’m not crazy. I’m very aware that my car and this computer are just buckets of precision engineering, full of wires and gears and silicon and plastic, stitched together on an assembly line somewhere in Asia. I know they have no feelings or emotions of their own.
But does that preclude me from being grateful to have had them in my life? My life has been made possible by these machines. And I don’t think it’s crazy to acknowledge how important they are.
So. To steal (and flip) a title from a Radiohead album, Goodbye, Computer. Try not to hold it against me if I only shed a manly tear. You’ve always been a really good friend.
Scott Morgan is a reporter and the host of All Things Considered on KETR.