In response to the writing 101 challenge to write a longform piece about ‘your most treasured possession’.
I used to think that the first thing I would rescue, if there was a fire in the house, would be photographs. They are irreplaceable reminders of the good times. Weddings, births, holidays, Christmas’s, days out. The past is all there, carefully arranged in photo albums, or stored higgledy piggledy in dusty shoeboxes. Now, however, I’ve scanned the best of the older ones, and all the more recent ones are digital anyway, so they are all safely waiting on the cloud ready for me to look at whenever, and wherever I please.
So I had to think hard about what my most treasured possession is now. At one time it might have been some jewellery that had belonged to my nan. I wore the necklace on my wedding day. It was just costume jewellery, not even gold, but it was a row of mother of pearl circles that she wore often, and when I looked at it I was reminded of cuddles and lavender smells. That’s gone now though. Stolen the first time we were burgled, along with every other piece of jewellery I possessed at the time.
Not only did they take my stuff, but they ransacked the kids rooms and took all the plastic, and even homemade, bits and pieces that they had collected, every bit of electrical equipment (even the phone – no mobiles at the time so I couldn’t ring the police even). I was devastated, and the sense of injustice remains. I’ve also been left with a feeling of insecurity in my own home which will never go away, or even recede, despite all the double locks and alarms in the world. Thanks for that burglers.
However, I do have something to thank the miserable toadys for. I no longer invest such emotional attachment to things. I have realised that life goes on even if you’re favourite trinket goes missing. Despite my insecurities, my fear these days is not of losing goods and chattels, but of the house being trashed, or being bopped over the head, or the dog’s (and the fishes – please don’t wee in the pond) wellbeing. Whilst I don’t want them to pinch my stuff, after all, we’ve worked hard for that and those lowlifes don’t deserve it, it really is all about my family’s personal safety these days.
My love of technology is well documented. I am gadget woman. Many years ago now, my husband bought me an ipod for Christmas. I cried with excitement and joy. Likewise, when my company presented me with my first iphone, I got embarrassingly over-excited and yes, a bit blubbery. I am one of those saddos that likes shiny new toys. I know, it’s undignified, what can I say?
I was the first amongst my friends and family to own a tablet (Ipad of course! p.s. Dear Apple, do I get a free upgrade for the advertising??). Again, it was my husband who forked out for it as a Christmas present. I had to order it myself though because he is a technophobe. Hates it all. Mind you, he’s a bit better now and I think secretly enjoys using his ipad (course I eventually bought him one – gave me something new to play with). When I ordered mine the Apple store was offering free engraving so I chose for him to write something gooey and lovey dovey on the back as well as ‘Christmas 2011’.
You’d think from all this I would be about to say ‘my most treasured possession is my ipad’. Well, those that know me might very well think that is the case. My ipad and my phone go everywhere with me. I’ve often tried to explain to unbelievers why I love it so much
‘What do you use it for’ they ask
And I set off on a list as long as your arm; l listen to music; I keep up to date with the news; I look at the weather forecast; I play games; I use online banking; I keep in touch with my friends and family; I read books and blogs; I shop; It’s a dictionary and theasaurus; a compass; it tells me about the traffic when I’m travelling; I can visit other places using google earth; there’s a map of the stars; a calculator; my address book; my calendar; a camera; my photos…. Well that’s for starters, you get the picture, and I always forget something or other anyway.
‘it would drive me mad, all that stuff’ they say
‘Ah, but that’s the beauty of it, you can use it how you want to. You can download the apps that you want. You don’t need all that stuff.’ Let’s face it, nobody needs Candy Crush Saga or Bejewelled Blitz. And though it pains me to say it, I suppose nobody really actually needs Facebook.
So you see, my ipad is a treasured possession. But when I think about it, it’s not my most treasured possession.
Now, you might be thinking it’s my family. But then you can’t call them possessions.
‘I have daughters’ doesn’t mean they belong to me. They are their own people. Even as children we shouldn’t view them as belongings, though undoubtedly some people do. For instance, I had a colleague who told me that if she wanted anything in the evenings, a glass of wine, a sandwich etc, she always made her son get it for her rather than hauling herself from the sofa to go to the kitchen. She argued that she provided for him so the least he could do was to wait on her hand and foot, slavelike. It was not a happy relationship though, and quite rightly in my opinion, he rebelled.
Without a doubt, my children are the most treasured people in my life. I am tempted to write something gooey about the happiness they bring me. How I would be nothing without them in my life, but I’ll spare you, and them. Suffice it to say, even though they now live great distances from me they continue to make me smile every single time I think of them (unless I’m going through a worrying about them patch, in which case I get wrinkles in my forehead) and that is practically all the time.
I should of course mention my husband. Can’t leave him out. He is there, walking beside me, encouraging me, making me snort with laughter, making me cross occasionally, making me delicious food, making my world better. Where would I be without him?
It is he who has encouraged me to write. Pushes me in fact. Tells me when it’s good and when it’s a bit pants. Tells me when it gets just a bit too ‘dark’ as it, bafflingly, so often does. Tells me how proud he is that I’m putting it ‘out there’.
And now we come to the crux: Out there. The Internet. The World Wide Web. The Cloud.
This is what I couldn’t do without. Having that connection is something I truly treasure.
You see, the internet was born quite late in my life, so I do remember the world without it. I remember life before Windows. I remember my first ever email. The beep beep beep of the dial up connection and frustration when you couldn’t get through. I can remember life before Google and Amazon, and Ebay, and Paypal. Makes me feel old. (note to self…you are!)
What I mean is, I really appreciate it. The connectivity of it. I can manage without my ipad, or iphone, or laptop. There are always others. Upgrades even. New ones to buy or borrow. They would be nothing without the connectivity though. I know how I feel when we have a power cut (all too often) and there’s no wifi for a couple of hours. It’s like my arm has been cut off.
Twenty one years ago we moved North, away from my family, and since my daughters left home, my husband and I are alone, apart from friends, in this neck of the woods. The internet provides a means of keeping in touch that no postal or telephone system could. Communication is instantaneous. Now, I am even able to facetime with my mother, who at 92 is using her ipad to email and text, play soduku and word games, and play solitaire. She lives alone and it has been a revelation to her. Given her a new lease of life (apart from when it goes pear shaped sometimes which knocks another couple of days off her I think!). Facetimes with her are hilarious too. She keeps forgetting to hold the ipad up, so most of the time I can only see the top of her head, but it gives us both something to chuckle over.
Without the Internet I would never have been brave enough to try and publish anything. Now though, thanks to WordPress and PoetrySoup, my writing is reaching far corners of the world. Something I could never have envisaged when I started writing stories years ago.
I’m more intelligent too…well, appear more intelligent. I see news as it happens. I feel well informed about current events, and can read opinions from all sides thanks to the likes of Twitter. I read more because books are cheaper, free even, and appear on my devices instantly (yes, of course I’ve got a kindle). It’s modern day magic.
Yes, sad but true, this is the thing I’d be lost without. The ability to reach my family, friends and the rest of the big wide world from the sofa, and to see and share my documents, photos and projects wherever I might be.
So thank you all you clever people out there who know how it works. I don’t need to know. I am just a grateful user.