Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks at the Keyboard

Not long ago I had reason to experience a flush of gratitude when I noted a gentleman in a hospital corridor who had lost an arm.  Seeing him there, fresh from his surgery but eager to be discharged, left me with an overwhelming sense of grace.  "There but for the grace of God go I," I said to myself.

In particular, I was thinking about the keyboard, and how difficult it would be to write without the use of arms and fingers.  There can even be thanksgiving over the keyboard, I thought.  This only makes sense to me.  After all, a great many years of my life have been poured through the keys (my time and my talent, I hope).

I also consider how far I've come or, I should say, how much technology has changed the act of writing during my lifetime. 

Years ago, I learned how to type on a manual Underwood--a machine created in the Pleistocene era that had to be pounded into submission in order to make a mark on the page.  Later, after IBM invented the Selectric, a new era dawned and the modus operendi was powered by electricity, deft to the touch.

My first PC--a Radio Shack Tandy 1000 with dual floppy drives (the berries!) and green monochrome monitor landed me in good stead for some years.  I printed from an interchangeable set of daisy wheels and shied away from the dot-matrix printers that, while offering speed, sacrificed the appearance of manual type.

This was followed by, in rather quick succession:  a full-fledged Compaq PC with media software, a Compaq PC with 3 1/2 floppy and hard drive (which I still use), and two Dell laptops, the youngest of which is my primary writing tool and is a whopping eight years young.

Between the Compaq and the latter Dell I've written at least thirty published books, no less than a thousand essays/stories, probably another thousand poems, and untold letters, emails, and blogs.  Well-worn, thread-bare, punished would be the operative words here for these two machines.

Still, I'm grateful for the keyboard, and still feel an elation at the stroke of a key or the appearance of a carefully-crafted sentence.  No doubt that the printing press followed by the PC would be two of the greatest inventions ever concocted by those who never sleep. 

One of these days I'll earn enough from a sale of an essay or a book to warrant purchasing a new PC.  Or perhaps one of these beasts will simply expire gracefully.  But until then, I'll continue to write, to give my royalties away, to have a reason for working into the sunrise. 

I can only hope I keep my fingers through the dark nights.  Somebody needs to write these blogs.