If you read my previous blog ‘On good enough’ you will know that my relationship with creating YouTube clips is, to put it mildly, a little fractious. So this week I felt cautiously optimistic when the recording, just 10 minutes or so in length, was made in just half a day. For me, that’s nothing short of miraculous.
Foolish of me, that fleeting moment of confidence. The (metaphorical) gremlin which inhabits my PC (itself only just back from PC hospital after it malfunctioned for several days) reached out to grab me by the throat again. Video uploads, check. Title in, check. Description, check. Thumbnail (the picture you see when searching) – YouTube decides not to allow me that option. I can click away, but nothing has happened. I’ve had this once before and apparently it can happen, simply an anomaly. Never mind. I breakfast, pray, go back. Still the same.
At this point I have two options. The first, which is very tempting, is to throw the computer out of the window, which is conveniently open because it is hot. Fortunately, I retain enough control to realise that whilst deeply satisfying in the short term it might not be the wisest long-term solution. The second is to try to reflect why something which may well be solvable has such a powerful impact. So I choose that option.
And then I realise. Helplessness. That is the feeling I am wrestling with and which is so unpalatable and disruptive. I just can’t make it happen. I can click on the relevant square all I like, but it refuses to do my bidding. The nameless, faceless giant that is the inner workings of YouTube is controlling, and frustrating, my capacity to do a simple task.
Only of course that is not the real, or at least the only, issue. Sitting underneath the frustration of the day is the situation we are all in – a faceless, though not nameless, virus which has ripped through our lives like a hoard of locusts destroying the most beautiful of crops and leaving ravaged stalks. There is so little we can do, apart from rigidly keeping guidelines which have deprived us of so much, relational beings as we are. As I type we can at least meet a few others in our or their garden, but still distanced and unable to hold them or sit a child we love on our lap. And the spectre of another spike and repeated lockdown looms large.
The pervading helplessness most of us experience at least occasionally at present can send us in several directions, often all of them on the same day. We can seek to rigidly control the few things we can – our home environment, our gardens if we have them – anything we can, but hopefully not each other. Or we can regress to a place where we feel like small children in a grown up world and seek comfort – for many people in food, or a mindless activity to distract us. We can rail against the world, like a toddler who throws a tantrum discovering how frightening life is as they realise they are not in control after all, and that their emotions feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
Now, lest a get a flurry of worried responses, it is now resolved with patience, and uploaded.
Yet the challenge remains. For Christians, and so for me, the task perhaps is to turn that helplessness into a dependence on God. Not one that removes our personal responsibility, but a leaning into, a remembering that we are held by One who is greater than us, who sees the future and walks with us into it. And not just when the computer defeats us, but every day.