The typewriter — what a marvellous invention! Typing is clearly faster and neater than handwriting. It has a serious flaw, however … Once you type something, it is there, carved into your face, forever!

With the advent of computers and word processing came “Undo” (Ctrl-Z¹) and the ability to track changes. Are you unhappy about a change you just made? Ctrl-Z! Did you accidentally change something drastic? Ctrl-Z!

Then, from time to time, I find myself using a piece of software that does not have the ability to undo a change, whether deliberate or as the result of a mistake. I once made a database update which changed over 100,000 records in a critically broken fashion. (There was no backup.) Manually correcting those records proved to be an important lesson, although, at the time, I would much have preferred to reach for that inviting curved arrow …

Lesson to be learned?

  • Save your work. Often. But only when you really want to keep the changes made.
  • Make sure there are backups (that actually work and can be restored) in case something goes wrong.
  • Familiarize yourself with the software you are using. Know its limitations and how that will affect you … not if, but when, something goes awry.

Sometimes I find myself looking for Ctrl-Z in real life as well. Oh, how I wish certain things could simply be undone. Oh, how I wish all the changes in life could be tracked and simply selectively undone after review. Picked up some extra padding around the waist? Let us undo that one. Made a decision that turned out differently from expected? Undo that as well.

Alas, life is not forgiving like that. And, honestly, what would we really learn if we could just selectively get rid of bad experiences or wrong choices? Is not that part of the reason why we are here, to learn and grow, even from our mistakes? More importantly, how would we otherwise ever learn forgiveness; to forgive others, and ask for forgiveness ourselves? How could we ever become more like the Savior himself if life did not require us to carefully select the path upon which to embark?

Do you find yourself looking for/wishing for certain computer features in life as well? Which ones, if any, would actually improve life?

¹ Command-Z on the Mac


“Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.”
Samuel Butler (1835–1902)

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