Hardware versus Software

It’s been a while since I’ve purchased a new computer. I did get a new work laptop a couple of years ago and it was fun looking at various computer stats and how various parts and upgrades contribute to performance. What kind of hard drive, how much RAM, what kind of processor, what kind of screen do you need and for what purpose. There is a noticeable difference in the screen of a graphic designer than your Excel junkie. Sure the Excel junkie could opt for the higher resolution and better color rendering screen, but why would they spend more money if all they are doing is just browing the internet, writing email and tracking finances?

Once you’ve got your hardware figured out, then next step is the software. This is the stuff that can change and adapt with your needs and you can upload new programs, install various plugins or updates or delete unused or unwanted programs (sometimes). This is the stuff that can learn and change. With hardware, once installed and purchased, you’re pretty much stuck with it and know it’ll never been as nice, clean or fast as when it’s brand new.

And that brings me to my next point – your hardware will never be as clean or fast as it was when it was brand new. Why? Because your hardware is a physical product, it’s prone to deterioration just as any other physical thing. Yes, you can do maintenance, keep in dust free, keep it from falling off the desk, keep coffee and sweet, delicious cereal milk from spilling all over it, but eventually it will fail. When will it fail? That depends on several factors, but it’s certainly possible it could outlast your lifetime. Or depending on your software or kids or clumsy office mate, it could be just a few years. Either way, both of these components need the other.

So what? Well I’ve been considering how this is kind of like an analogy for people. When people are born, they come with a set of hardware (the body, organs, skin, etc) and a set of software. Unlike computers, however, human software doesn’t come with any junk programs or crummy stuff you don’t want and can’t delete. You’re born with only the most essential things you’d need to be able to do. The brain is amazing at this.

From the time babies are born, they know how to eat, how to cry to get attention, how to go to the bathroom, how to sleep, and most of all – they are born very observant and mimic what others do in order to get what they want. Sometimes they might need a little help to figure out some of these things (plugins or updates), but for the most part, they already have an operating system that knows what to do in order to survive. It’s really amazing when you see it real life. They can’t do hardly anything for themselves, but when they’re born, they have all the stuff they’d need in order to live.

I think about this too as an adult. My hardware can’t really change, but I could do better maintenance at keeping it functioning properly. It’s definitely possible to replace certain parts, but after those transplants you’re not really sure how it’ll go afterward; it’d be better to just take good care before that happens. As far as software, people are similar to computers in this way too. If you let the junk just pile up, never remove the spammy programs, never delete your cookies, eventually you’ll stop functioning properly and things will break down. If you do regular mental maintenance with a gratitude practice, mindfulness training, read books, talk to friends, stay hydrated, pray, sit in silence, think quietly, think aloud, discourse about ideas, tell people you love them, talk about your problems and frustrations and feelings, etc, then I think you’ll be better able to function at a high level.

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it and necessary. Every person has the ability to do these things, either directly or with help from others. I hope we can all find the ways to be a “person for others” in whatever way that means for us and our individual gifts. Tell someone you love them. Go Forth!

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