I've been using a computer for over ten years. My present computer's hard drive contains several thousand articles, a book, decades of correspondence, poems, ideas, college lectures, and stationary templates. While working on a lecture for my university Internet course, I pulled-up a document that I wanted to use. Much to my chagrin, I noticed that letters were missing in many of the words making the document look like cyberspace Swiss cheese. What had happened to my material? In a mild panic, I tried to type in the missing letters as if I was a contestant on a computerized version of Wheel of Fortune. However, the document didn't allow me to type in the missing letters. I then tried to pull-up several other documents to see whether they were affected. They all had missing letters and several documents were completely blank. My mild panic quickly turned into terror and hysteria. I thought that I had become the victim of a computer virus-a new and lethal virus called the Wheel of Fortune Virus.

I scanned my files for any virus but found none. Then I downloaded an updated version of my anti-virus program and again scanned my files. Still no viruses were found. Next, I defragged and scanned my hard drive. Again and again, I pulled up various documents, all of which were corrupted. I faced the very real possibility that I would lose all my material that I had written since the late 80s. I tried and retried everything that I thought might help but nothing worked. Perspiration poured from my forehead while my heart raced like a dragster going from 0 to 100 in 5 seconds flat. What was I going to do? I spend at least three or four hours a day writing on my computer. I couldn't believe that I was on the verge of losing thousands of hours of work because of some virus.

While in a frenzy of fear and incarcerated by incredulity, I began to face the reality that I could soon have a computer without any retrievable material. As that eventuality started to dawn upon me, I noticed that I was monitoring my thoughts and physical reactions to this very serious trauma. Then it came to me. Life goes on! This computer crisis wasn't terminal. I would get up the next day and go to work. Even though a decade of work was going up in cyberspace smoke, I was still alive. My family and loved ones were also well. I already possessed everything that truly was important. If I had to choose between the blessing of life and loved ones or having all my material in tact in the computer, the choice would be obvious. I had all that I really needed. I could endure the computer catastrophe. In addition, I was intrigued about how quickly I came to my senses.

As my heart and perspiration rates returned to normal, I returned to my ailing computer. The same voice of reason that had recently calmed me told me just to turn the computer off. I did. Then it seemed that I was being told to turn the computer back on, and I did. Do you believe in miracles? I do now. I opened a couple of documents and the missing letters were all there as if Vanna White had turned the letters all back to the way that I had saved them originally. My crisis was over. I can't explain what had happened. However, I won't forget the more important lesson of life. I now know what is ultimately most important in my life-health and loved ones and not files in my computer.

In the past couple of weeks since that computer crisis, I have told this story several times to my clients. One of them was a man who has had several alcohol-related driving arrests. He feared that he would be sentenced to three years in jail. Obviously, he hoped and prayed that he wouldn't have to serve any time. Fortunately for him, he got his wish. However, he had to spend on average an hour each day in counseling, seeing his probation officer, or doing community service. After a month of his alternative sentencing, I saw him for his weekly counseling. He was upset with all the burdensome activities of his sentence. I told him my computer story. He smiled and said, "I ought to be grateful that I'm not in jail."