When I graduated from using a correcting Selectric typewriter to a large Xerox Memorywriter with floppy disks, I asked the trainer, "How does it work?"
He looked at me and said, "Unless you're going to repair them, don't worry about how it works and make it work." I was overthinking but I learned to make it work.
I'm dating myself, but this is how I began using computers in the early 1980s.
I learned slowly, one detail at a time without feeling overwhelmed.
VCRs, floppy disks and typewriters are technological history. Now we have DVDs, DVRs, streaming, computers that sit in our laps or are held in our hands.
I like the convenience of our DVR (digital-video recorder, for those who might not know). We can hit rewind, fast-forward or pause as many times as we want. It's interesting to see some details when we use pause: The background that sets the scene, the expression on actors' faces in still and all the minute details we miss when watching or fast-forwarding.
If we move too fast through our days, we miss the details of life that make it worthwhile. We easily can overlook the beauty of simplicity and of nature and the moments with the important people in our lives.
Here we are at the end of another year, and it's almost like God fast-forwarded time. I want to pause and look back on the past 12 months and remember the highlights and the choices I've made -- good and bad.
A sign on a restaurant wall in one scene of a movie read, "This is our life, not a dress rehearsal." I paused the DVR to read it and wrote it down to remember.
But we can't rewind or fast-forward our lives and make different choices, take back words we wish we hadn't said or rewrite our history.
We are figuring out day by day how to make our lives work and how to make the best choices and react in loving ways.
I love quotations that give me pause to think.
One of the reasons I love to read is the different perspectives I see in everything, from daily lives to profound life choices. It helps me firm up my own opinions to make the most of every day.
In a novel by Karen White, her 93-year-old character, who still types on a typewriter, notices a 10-year-old girl who spends her days with her face in a computer, checking Facebook.
The older character notes we're building a generation of "backspaces and delete buttons," in which people believe they always have a second chance to say the right thing.
I related to this after having been a secretary for 28 years and then a reporter, typing away as noted above. On a typewriter, when you made a mistake, you either started over with a fresh piece of paper or used correcting tape or Wite-Out to type over it.
Obviously, with computers, we no longer have that tedious task.
But as soon as your words are on the internet, you can't take them back.
Similarly, once we say something, we can't take it back.
My dad used to say, "Think before you speak. It's not just what you say but how you say it."
I wrote a poem years ago about how our words were like feathers on the wind. Trying to retrieve the words is impossible, just like gathering feathers flying high and away into the sky.
So if our life is our personal novel and we are not yet at the end, consider this quotation by historian Carl Brand as we start a new year: "Though no one can go back and make a new beginning -- anyone can start from now and make a brand-new end."
Our histories are riddled with choices we have made.
Right now, we're thinking about how to celebrate Christmas or New Year's Eve. Hopefully, we will be overwhelmed with joy, save time for reflection, speak kindly and focus on new beginnings.
Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by Day column for ThisWeek. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.