Memories as our hard drives
Humans have, since prehistoric times when paintings were scratched on cave walls, sought to prevent the final vanishing of memory. Oral histories, diaries, memoirs, films, photographs, and poetry have always been humanity’s tools against the time’s wipeout.
We hope that we’ll be remembered, that occasions will be remembered and the poet Carl Sandburg captured this feeling perfectly in his poem “Troths” from 1916.
Yellow dust on a bumblebee’s wing,
Grey lights in a woman’s asking eyes,
Red ruins in the changing sunset embers:
I take you and pile high the memories.
Death will break her claws on some I keep.
Nowadays we save our memories onto devices — hard drives, internet servers, social media timelines that records our most significant (and/or insignificant) life events and our likes, the email inbox that holds our conversations, the online channels that broadcasts how we move, talk, dance and sing. We collect and curate our memories much more meticulously than ever before, in every case grasping for a certain kind of immortality (even if only to appease our conscience).
Is it enough? Have we covered all bases? We save what we believe to be important, but what if we miss something? What happens when something gets lost in this constant upgrade of devices and platforms? Wasn’t it easier when we didn’t take as many photos for example, and used the few we had developed to build ‘analog’ family albums we actually looked at, as opposed to too many digital photos saved in different platforms we hardly look at?
Sometimes I think… how much better would it be to save everything, not only the written thoughts and snapped moments of life, but our entire mind: everything we know and all that we remember, the love affairs and heartbreaks, the moments of victory and of shame, the lies we told and the truths we learned, the feelings we felt when those moments we’re trying to save were taking place even? Then again, given that as humans we’re prone to romanticising certain life moments and on the same token, admonish others based on our emotional intelligence and maturity (lack of thereof), would it really be a positive experience having access to one’s entire mind with all its nuances and dark places after they’ve passed? I am not sure…
I am having a hard enough time coming to terms with having lost important content (creative writing pieces, old family photos, important documents from when I used to live in Brazil etc) as I’ve recently upgraded my laptop and failed to back up some content to the external hard drive. I feel overwhelmed, I have too many backup processes just in case something goes wrong (specially to prevent losing all my kids’ baby photos), but I get lazy and the impossible happens. Never mind having to remember a million different passwords to be able to get into my cloud systems — keychains can be a bastard at times too.
Who knows, maybe the universe is testing me on my newly embraced life mantra…
“Less is more"
I feel I have to put my money where my mouth is and live with the fact that it’s gone forever.