We’ve all heard about Jesus winning a computer programming contest with Satan because “Jesus saves.” We’ve heard about what happens to people who coast along with all their computer files on the computer itself, which their kid drops down a well or something. We have heard this so much, that we bought an HP SimpleSave backup drive and we backed up all our computer files, pictures, etc. We felt smug.
Then our precious younger daughter came home for a weekend needing to reformat her Mac, and she used our SimpleSave to do it. What she didn’t realize was that, in so doing, she rendered the SimpleSave invisible to, and useless on, my desktop PC. When I went looking for Pat Winship’s poem, “Thy Rabbit,” for the blog post on the print shop, the backup drive was empty.
I have had some hollow, lost feelings in my life, but that one was in the top five. All of my writing, years of it, was on that backup drive. Half a novel. Every newspaper column since 2001. All my pictures. Christmas card lists, party menus, travel notes, financial information, and, of course, “Thy Rabbit.” Gone. Inaccessible.
I rolled into a fetal ball and stayed there, at least emotionally, for two weeks. Sometimes I would wake up in the night and think of another irreplaceable thing that had vanished in the digital ewigkeit. I tried to wax philosophical about the ephemeral nature of, well, everything. But with my hip surgery five weeks away, I’m already feeling ephemeral and fragile myself. I didn’t really want to be reminded that loss lurks around every corner.
This weekend, Suz came home, Mac in hand, and she had not been in the house five minutes before she plugged the SimpleSave into the Mac and . . . drumroll, please . . . all my files were safe and visible to her. We did the happy dance. Twice.
Seriously, it was like getting a big chunk of my life back from the dead. We moved all the documents and photos onto DVRs and gloated. This morning, I have been looking at pictures and thanking God for having them back, and possibly even safer than they were.
I don’t know what the point is, exactly. Back up your stuff? I was already doing that. Don’t let your 25-year-old doctoral student daughter near your hard drive? Good luck with that one. Make some DVRs? Maybe.
I started wondering where this all stops. I mean, I could back up the back up onto another backup, and then make DVRs and THEN print out paper copies of everything, and it could all still be lost in a fire, flood, or the exigencies of children and dogs. I envision myself, a pair of eyeballs peeking out from a mountain of backups, in which nothing is accessible. It reminds me of an old Pogo cartoon, where the Prince of Pompadoodle is so afraid of everything, he hides out in his tower by himself, and nobody knows if he’s alive or not. They don’t care much, either, as I recall.
So to live in the digital world is to live with risk, and I can accept that, because the other choice is a room full of things I have to protect still further. But this morning, I am insanely happy to be given a reprieve from loss just this once. I will cherish these DVRs until I lose them in the mountain of files I keep because I am afraid to throw them away. If anybody wants me today, I’ll be in my studio, making something tangible, just because that’s harder to lose.