My web-hosting provider recently had a big upgrade of their servers and hardware (or something). It happened over night and I received an email in the morning to say it had all been moved across successfully (IP addresses had been moved).
I looked at my website and found that perhaps it HADN’T happened all that successfully.
My domain address led to the website of Presbyterian Urban Health Services in Aba, Nigeria. For six hours I panicked, getting others to look to see what had happened, and attempting to get answers from the host company. There was no information about it, no one else seemed to be having the same problem and the response from technical support was not particular useful. I was starting to think the worst – a Nigerian charity website did not really fill me with confidence – it reminded me of many emails I have had to politely pass on in the past.
In the end it was fine.
The servers had just taken a long time to catch up.
There was no information that this might happen. My fears that I’d been hacked were put to bed.
But hey, like all these things there are always lessons to be learned.
I realised that it was yet another thing in life I take for granted. My website – my main presence on the Internet relies on many things to work and I had forgotten that. When it was gone I missed it. But when it was there I didn’t even give it a second thought.
As I refreshed the page for the umpteenth time to find it had reappeared I experienced the relief that comes with finding a lost wallet, keys or important document. It’s that sheer unadulterated joy in finding something that you take for granted. Within such moments you really experience life – you get a glimpse of consciousness – you have to step outside of your situation and consider what happens next (something that was not in your plan this morning).
Eggs and Baskets
It also made me realise the importance of using what Michael Hyatt describes as Embassy sites, which are networks that you don’t actually own your presence on (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube etc). You don’t control anything other than content and have no responsibility for its maintenance.
I am a strong believer in artists, writers, and creative explorers having an online hub, from where their presence on the web is grounded (an embassy site should not be the primary space). But I also love the fact that we are able to use many different spaces and as a result if one goes down our whole ship doesn’t sink. My website disappearing doesn’t affect any of the Embassy sites, and likewise if any of those networks have problems the other places are likely unaffected.
This applies to many things.
How often do we put all our trust in one thing to find out later that it wasn’t what we thought?
We all have things (or notions) that we put our complete faith in that actually turn out to let us down (ideologies, politicians, the media, money, our self, expectations, imagination, family, friends, work, to name but a few). Does our life and purpose rely completely on external factors that we don’t control? What happens when things change? Because they will. Everything changes. That’s what time is. As long as the clock is ticking then things will change.
Where have we put our eggs?
Is our life and identity about keeping things safe, trying to hold fast to the way we believe life is (things outside of us) – trying with all our might to protect all the eggs in place? Or is our character and identity based on something that transcends our position on and in the world? If we became displaced, lost our money, lost abilities etc, would we still have our eggs?