Have you ever sat watching a cloud as it slowly disappeared into thin air? Trying to pinpoint the moment when it was no longer a cloud?
When I was in college, back before we bit into the Apple, I had a Brother Word Processor. I wrote dozens of research papers, hundreds of essays, and perhaps a thousand poems on that word processor. Many of them never made it to paper, but were stored on disks that were made specifically for that device. 2.2 disks, I think.
Somewhere in my mother’s house there is a stack of pure brilliance, irretrievable.
When I worked in Corporate America I planned and schemed on a network computer with three disk drives. Somewhere in a closet there is a dusty Coach briefcase filled with the priceless history of my career in 3 different formats. And on microfiche. Never to be read again.
When the kids were born we bought a digital camera, and we took pictures. Oh, so many pictures. Sometimes dozens a day. We stored them on the state of the art PC we had purchased when we bought our house. The monitor is long gone, but The Tower is still in the basement somewhere. And in any given cabinet or drawer, you may find a random CD in a clear plastic case, which may or may not be labelled, and may or may not contain the history of our family.
Yesterday when I was in Shop Rite balancing a large birthday cake across the top of a heaping full shopping cart I dropped my iPhone onto the floor. It had been in my hand because I had been reading my shopping list. I write all of my lists in the Notes app: things to do list, things to buy list, movies to watch list, books to read list, songs to listen to list. I also use the Notes for everything else I write: chunks of manuscript, ideas for blog posts, poems in the works, meditations, yoga nidra scripts, class ideas, workshops, random phrases I fall in love with, all of my hopes and dreams. Every thing.
I had recently made a mental note to upload them all somewhere, just in case anything happened to my phone. That was a couple of weeks ago. I remember that I had somewhere around 260 notes at the time.
When I picked up the phone it was black. Dead. I remember this happening once before so I thought it could be resolved. I was hopeful. I didn’t want to lose those notes!
The things I would run back in to the house to save in a fire? Nothing. Because all of my ideas are right here in my pocket at any given moment. Or in my hand. I keep them close, I hold on tight. Usually.
I felt physically nauseous at the AT&T store as she told me the bad news. ‘It’s dead, Kim.’
Sigh. I knew it wasn’t permanent. I know nothing really is.
We try so hard to hold on to things. We make our lists. We capture our thoughts. We photograph every thing we see. The moments that we deem post-worthy make it to social media. Others are relegated to The Folder.
We move through our lives capturing whatever we can with the Technology Du Jour.
We send our memories up into the clouds, where they will disappear so slowly, we won’t even know it’s happening.