There are so many things in our lives that we take for granted; our health, our homes, and sometimes even the things we love. We get so used to the way we live and the way our lives look that we often forget to stop and think about what is most important to us and how fortunate we are to have what we do. In order to remember these things, it sometimes requires us to lose one of them. I realized this recently when our microwave broke. Before you rush to judge my ability to differentiate between the emotional significance of losing a microwave and things that actually matter, consider what can be learned from it. I found through my cosmically insignificant struggle that there were some important lessons for all of us to consider.
In the weeks before our microwave finally decided to die on us, it started making some strange noises. This was usually reserved for heating up coconut oil (which I learned you should probably not do in a microwave), but it started happening to other foods. Until eventually it got to a point where it would flicker with the loud and terrifying sounds of a deadly thunderstorm every time your turned it on. I kept trying to use it right up until the point my wife declared that it was time to finally unplug our faithful radioactive friend. The signs of the end had been near for weeks and I simply ignored them. I just continued taking advantage of its ability to heat up my food because I was hungry. Thankfully we are talking about a microwave here. Ignoring these signs is not as grievous an error as ignoring the signs that your spouse is unhappy, or ignoring the symptoms of a potentially pressing medical issue. But the experience served to remind me of the importance of taking the time to read things. If something doesn’t seem right then it usually isn’t.
The immediate aftermath of losing the use of the microwave was a very mild shock. It took several attempts at heating up various morsels of food in the oven or on the stove like some kind of animal to realize just how much it was something that I relied on. Working from home requires me to be able to make a snack quickly, with minimal effort, and without any fuss. It was a habit so ingrained that even though I knew consciously that the microwave was gone, I continually found myself attempting to put food in it. It would always take me a moment for my mind to process that the equipment was no longer working before realizing my efforts were wasted. Each instance was yet another reminder of hole that had formed in our kitchen. Now every time I need to eat I think about it in relation to the fact that I can no longer use the microwave, it’s just gone. It’s like the holes that are left behind by all the things that we lose, into which our normal life is slowly pulled further into it as we realize how important to us it truly was.
Eventually we learn to adapt with the things that are missing from our lives. In the same way that red blood cells clot in order to seal a wound, we change the way we live to make up for the things we have lost. Life has to go on, we have to go on, even without our microwaves. I started cooking different foods, better foods. I stopped relying on zap-able processed potato based treats and started eating salad. It took time out of my work day, but it was time that I got to reflect on things and I found myself sitting down to work with a renewed vigor. It’s at this point I remembered that our ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome, is a critical component of who we are as a species. Losing the microwave made life mildly inconvenient for a while, but I got something out of it.
Of course not all loss is as simple as that. I have lost things that were far more important to me than a microwave could ever be; meaningful possessions, important opportunities, and people who were close to me. But this whole saga has reminded me of the importance of never taking for granted the things that matter the most. Reflecting on what we lose is an important part of reminding ourselves that we should never take anyone, or anything, for granted. Learn to appreciate and care for what you have and remember that if there ever comes a time that you lose something that really matters to you, that even if you can never move beyond it, you can go on despite it.
Armed with these lessons and these reminders, I think it is finally time to move on. It’s time to go and buy a new microwave.