I consider myself to be an optimistic person. I tend to see the glass as half-full, look on the bright side, think positive, and believe that the sun will come out tomorrow. When I took my computer’s dead hard drive to the disk recovery people, it never really occured to me that they wouldn’t be able to rescue some, if not all, of the data. So when I got the call and they said that they were unable to retrieve any information at all, I totally freaked-out.
There was one thing I wanted more than anything else on my computer, and that was the set of pictures I had taken of my mom’s “nature” art work that she created around her home as her Alzheimer’s worsened. Every time I went to visit, I had secretly taken pictures of the beautiful designs she made on table tops, chairs, pathways, dirt patches — all over the yard.
When I got off the phone and realized that all these images were gone, I lay my head on the table and sobbed. I felt like my mom had been taken from me again. I felt like this was the last little gift of artistic beauty that she was able to share with us, and I was devastated that it was gone.
My husband and son tried to console me, but it was no use. I felt stupid, careless, thoughtless. How could I not have backed-up my pictures and documents? I went into the shower and cried some more as the water washed over me. I felt heartbroken. Yet, these were just inanimate objects. Just memories. Everyone was healthy. No one had gotten hurt. The house hadn’t burned down. As I drove to the computer place, I cried some more. All my public domain scans, photos of all my old art work, the email addresses of all my students’ parents, all those bookmarks and blog spots I’d collected over the years. But it wasn’t that I’d lost email addresses or music, all of which could be replaced over time; I had allowed my computer to become the repository of my artistic endeavors for the past five years, and now there was nothing left.
I composed myself in the car before walking into the computer shop. I approached the receptionist, and she said she was sorry that they hadn’t been able to recover the data.
“Do you have a grief counselor?” I asked facetiously.
“Why, as a matter of fact we do,” she replied. Apparently all those feelings I was experiencing are very common, and they actually have a counselor (formerly a suicide-hotline volunteer) to listen to anguished customers vent their frustrations about the loss of their computer hard drives and data.
The receptionist asked me to have a seat in their waiting room — the “Museum of Bizarre Disk-asters.” All over the place were examples of miraculous data recovery missions. Here was a CPU that had been charred and melted during a house fire. “Data Recovered!” said the sign next to it. There was a lap top that had been run over by a semi-truck. “Data Recovered!” Here was a story of a woman who had been working as a juggler on a cruise ship — which sank. She rented scuba diving equipment, dived into the murky waters, and retrieved her laptop. “Data Recovered!” Autographed pictures of Sting, Barbara Mandrell, Isaac Hayes, the writers of the Simpson’s and other famous people lined the walls. They had all had their “Data Recovered!” But not little old me.
I read an article about the counselor. In an interview she said that her clients usually felt angry with themselves for not having backed-up their computers [check], confused over their feelings of sorrow about the loss of an inanimate object [check], and depressed because of the loss of information which had been the result of years of creative expression [check]. She said that losing the information often fit the definition of a traumatic event because the total loss of control involved. I could totally relate.
“May I have a tissue?” I had to ask the lady at the front desk as my weeping resumed.
Driving back home, I wondered what life lessons I could learn from this dismal experience, beyond the most obvious one about backing-up the hard drive. Maybe I trust technology too much. Maybe I rely on it more than I should. But things happen, and we make the best of it and go on. After all, tomorrow is another day.
My hard drive was replaced by Apple (thank goodness for extended warranties!!), and today I started reinstalling software, setting up my email accounts, and adding in some of my more important bookmarks. As I was going through my CD’s, I found one in a case that said – Back-Up Disk, 8/23/05. My heart started pumping as I place it in the drive. I saw the iPhotos folder. I tried not to get my hopes up as I previewed a jpeg, but there they were — all of the pictures I had taken of my mother’s nature designs! I had backed them up after all. What a miracle! What a treasure recovered! Oh what a lucky girl I am!
Sticks and Stones