My oldest son used to love to say, “Back in the day.” I hated it because he started to use it in his late twenties to refer not only to his childhood but to mine; his inflection made it sound like this, “You know, back in the day like in the Middle Ages, you remember, right?” Yeah, well, after 2020, I wouldn’t mind a bit of antiquity.

You remember antiquity, aka— before Steve Jobs and Wozniak and Jony Ive? My guess is you would’ve hated me. Well, maybe not all the time, but definitely when you came back from vacation, especially if you’re one of those people who love to take pictures. I had absolutely no interest in looking at people, who I knew, posed in front of buildings, statues and landscapes because it told me nothing of their experience. That’s what I wanted them to share.

Jump back to the summer before my senior year in college. I spent three months mapping the geography of Great Britain. One morning in Wales, I hiked over the rocky green fields dappled with heather to the cliffs, where the ocean expanded before me and coaxed me to inhale the scent of wet algae upon the rocks and fish and the droppings of goats and sheep that roamed nearby. When I turned back to the country, my body swelled like the ocean behind me and my only thought was, “Damn, this is like being in a picture postcard, only better.” I could’ve taken a picture with a pre-Jobs-Wozniak-Ive camera, but decided against it. No picture could do justice to the emotional memory that was taking root. I never regretted my decision.

Fast forward to 2015 when I bought my first iPhone in order to stay connected to my sons while my husband and I traveled to Ireland. Taking pictures with the iPhone was a breeze and the photos turned out so well, I turned into a snapping fool. And for the first time, I understood the power of photojournalism. Not that I could ever compete, but golly, my consciousness expanded in the most marvelous way. Later that summer, I became a Yaya because my middle son became a Daddy to a gorgeous baby girl, who loves the lens of a camera. Snap. Snap. Snap. Then along came 2019 and Instagram, and my obsession to snap invaded my brain space to such an extent it now poses a daily threat to my writing life.

Slide into last Sunday when I needed to update the software for my MacBook Air. No problem. Yes, I came kicking and screaming into the computer age, but my comfort zone has expanded and I’m able to navigate basic maintenance— except macOS Big Sur wasn’t having it. Whenever I selected the device where I wanted the new software to download, a notice popped up— no room available. Only 5 GBs of space were left. How was that possible? Further investigation showed my writing life had only taken up 11.42 GB. My Air’s space was being hogged by pictures.

Easy fix. I transferred all the pictures from my life to an external drive, which left only four folders on my desktop, but I was still 14 GB over. I purged music. Not enough. I thought about deleting more, but after dumping almost half the music library the space I’d gained was only minuscule. Hmmm…well duh— the problem was in the existing files. So, I gathered all the writing notes from the last eighteen years, which I just knew I would reference again and again, only I never did, pitched them into the trash and hit EMPTY. Verdict— 12 GB over. What!?!? Turns out there’s a Photo thing on the dock which was keeping pictures that were in the folders I’d already removed. I don’t know how this is possible, but it was a thing and that thing needed to be purged and…

I froze— Okay, this is where I have to confess the removal of the photos from my laptop to the external drive wasn’t easy. The fact that those pictures, even though I never look at them, would no longer be at my fingers tips set my nerve endings afire. Because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt with all its cliché-ness that as soon as I removed those folders from the desktop I would need them— desperately.

The quandary was mortifying, but only one choice was viable to maintain a healthy computer for my writing life. Delete, Delete, Delete, Delete. Now only my favorites are fingertip ready via my iPhone, and, as of today, for each new photo I want to keep, an old favorite must be moved to the hard drive. Or maybe…it’ll just go into the trash.

If you drop the baggage you can get on the train.

Plug-In to Kundalini Yoga— breath work is an essential part of a Kundalini practice. The deeper you breathe the more energy you move through the body. Inhale what you want. Exhale what you don’t. My teacher HariPrakaash says you don’t even need to consciously know the specifics of the exchange. As long as you keep the breath moving, you’ll be able to drop your baggage and get on the train, because your emotional blocks will have been removed.

This teaching flashed in my mind’s eye as soon as my new operating system was installed. Niggled at me the entire night and all through Monday morning’s Sadhana. And when I opened up the manuscript, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Instead of polishing up the Third Act, which is where I’ve been since I stopped filling in the holes of my protag’s life, I jumped back to Chapter 3.

The reason I jumped to the Third Act was because Chapter 3 was a scary clusterfuck and I didn’t have the slightest idea how to fix it, which made it extra frightening because it should’ve been easy. All Kait needs to do in the scene is clarify the intention and motivation that officially launches her journey— only, my hard drive was maxed out from the twelve previous drafts and I was unable to download anything new. So, I jumped to the end, and as I delved deeper into the healing part of her journey, I was able to see her dysfunction more clearly and tons of inspiration came about infamous Chapter 3, but nothing strong enough to make me go there. In fact, before I got all caught up in updating my computer software, my mind was all set to work backwards through the manuscript just as I had at the end of the first round of revisions.

But then I dumped my photos…

My photos have nothing to do with my manuscript, and everything to do with my process. I was frightened by Chapter 3 because it couldn’t be fixed. It needed to be dumped. And that’s exactly what I did. I thanked my third chapter for playing then hit delete and got on Kait’s train.