A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced the revival of the iPad Air in a 10.5” form factor. For most people, that news was moderately interesting at best, but as I read up on the announcement, I felt something unexpected: joy. I was legitimately happy about a company far away selling something I would never buy. So happy, in fact, that I couldn’t hold it in.
I tweeted about it. I texted about it. I talked on and on to my (wonderfully patient) wife about it. I was so excited that I just had to tell people. And now, I’m left here to wonder why. Why was I so ecstatic about something so seemingly trivial?
It’s not like I’m going to buy the thing. In fact, I had one just like it, and I got rid of it last year to upgrade to a new one. The most interaction I’ll ever have with this iPad Air is casually looking it over the next time I walk into a Best Buy. Maybe one of my non-techy friends will take my advice and invest in one for their personal computing needs, but even that won’t improve my own life in any measurable way. This device has nothing to do with me, and yet, it still had such a strong effect on me, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.
I think the answer lies in the fondness I have for that old iPad I mentioned above. In 2017, Apple released their first 10.5” device, then called the iPad Pro, and I bought it on day one. I loved that thing. I originally thought it would make a great device for reading articles and watching videos, but it became so much more.
Over time, I moved almost every single one of my daily computing tasks over from my desktop to my iPad, and I found them to be much more enjoyable on there. There was a magic to it all that was just so compelling. From checking emails to completing church tasks to podcast editing to writing for this very blog, I did everything on that iPad.
Katherine and I even did most of our wedding planning on it. I remember sitting next to each other browsing venues, picking out items for our registry, and designing our invitations on that 10.5” screen. We used it to look over floor plans for our house and even to buy furniture. It may seem silly, but the warm feelings I have for those moments are forever inexorably tied to that piece of glass as well.
That iPad was my main computer. My mobile office. My creative studio. My sidekick. It went everywhere with me. During a time of huge change in my life, it was always there with me, in my bag, ready to go at a moment’s notice. No matter what I was trying to accomplish, I knew I could rely on it to help me do it to the very best of my ability.
The truth is that I got attached to the thing. Can you imagine? Me—emotionally invested in a physical object. It’s ludicrous.
I don’t get attached to anything in the physical world. My friends, family, and coworkers even like to joke with me about it. If someone hands me a piece of paper, the first thing I do is scan it and throw it in the trash. When Katherine and I were preparing to move, I sorted through my stuff and gave away bag after bag of it without batting an eye. I don’t even think twice about upgrading my phone every year because I don’t have any attachment to it whatsoever.
For a myriad of reasons, though, this one physical thing locked me in. And so, when Apple last year announced that they were discontinuing it and coming out with a new version, my heart sank. I almost didn’t have it in me to upgrade. But I did, and I found a good home for my old iPad with my brother at school. And I thought that was the end of it, until news of this new iPad broke, and all of those emotions came back to me.
The truth is that despite my hesitation to become attached to physical things, I’m happy that this one is out in the world. It’s meant so much to me, and I believe it has the ability to play that role in the lives of others as well. Because we all eventually find a thing or two that we become attached to, and I’m starting to learn that it’s OK. As long as we’re attached to the right things for the right reasons, they can actually help us enjoy our lives rather than pull us away from them.
I don’t know that I’ll ever love a physical thing the way I loved that iPad. I’m pretty fond of the one I have now, but it’ll never be tied to the memories I have of that old one. I’m secretly hoping I can get it back from my brother one day when it’s chipped and cracked and the battery doesn’t work anymore. Because even then, I’ll still love it. And I’m choosing to embrace that rather than resist it.
I’m still trying to steer clear of becoming attached to too many things in this life, because ultimately, they’re all going to go away. And most of the things we invest so much of our emotions in simply aren’t worth it. But if you find something that is, don’t be afraid to hold on to it and love it for all it’s worth. I’m lucky to have found something so meaningful in my life, and I can only hope that if you do as well, you’ll find as much joy in it as I have.
Thanks for reading, friends. I’ll see you next week.