Nostalgia, It isn’t what it used to be

What is the worst thing that could happen to you? Serous illness, loss of a family member, losing a job will both be high on the list but after this first tier, a computer crash must be near the top. That is the problem I faced over the weekend.

It happened on Friday just as we headed into a long weekend with a public holiday. I pressed the start button and nothing happened. I unplugged it and plugged it again. I held the button down and counted to 15 but still, it sat there quietly staring back blankly.

I assumed it was the disk which I had been monitoring for a time and I had already started to fret, in a very low key way, as its active life headed up to 13,000 hours. But that had survived. The repairman said that it was the ‘motherboard’ on my old faithful Lenovo that had decided enough was enough. That was why it wouldn’t boot.

With a passable parody of the Monty Python, he went on to explain that the machine was no more, deceased, had fallen off its perch, stiff, bereft of life, kicked the bucket and finally shuffled off its mortal coil. In short, he said this is an ex-computer. and why it was meant for the scrap yard.

That was it. No salvation, no magic switch, no time to mourn and no time to do the research as I needed to buy a replacement and probably quickly. Normally, I might consider extensive research but an offer from one shop to do all the setup and data transfer clinched the HP deal. I got my machine back today and this is the first piece of typing anger.

My life is sad and shallow in that I spend hours with my computer. We have been together on trips and holidays to Thailand, Turkey, much of Europe, all around the UK and of course multiple trips to Kiev.

My life is almost literally on the computer, I have kept emails since before the turn of the century. I keep all my books in their many drafts. Multiple designs for book cover litter the files. There are intimate letters between Sasha and me which cover five years of hopes, dreams, and plans.

Some time ago I had worked out that the cost of losing all of that memorable information was high and made full use of Cloud storage. Everything, including all those old emails, was blasted up into the ether waiting for this day when everything would fail.

But not everything is quite right.

Most things are in the right place but as it stands I can’t access anything on the Cloud account that was changed in the last 6 months. Most importantly that includes six months of work on my latest novel. Don’t worry its just a mere 100,000 words.

I will stay positive until I speak to the software engineer later today. Then I might start pulling out what is left of my hair. But that brings me to a conversation I had over the weekend with a close friend.

We were talking about possessions and I was saying that when I left Dubai, six years ago, my life had resolved itself down to two suitcases, and of course my then faithful Sony. Everything else had been sold or given away. After 40 years of striving my whole life could be carried to the airport. I remember looking at the suitcases as they disappeared on the airport carousel and thinking that if they were lost I would only own the clothes I was standing in.

For a moment it was frightening and then quickly it became liberating as I realised that owning something isn’t important. Things may jog a good memory but they aren’t memory. The memory lives deep inside you and is always there.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I would much rather have than not have. There are days when I would like to hoard and not bother about clearing out the junk in my life but when it happens, believe me, there is no great loss. They are just nostalgia. They are the mementos of where you have been and not a signpost of where you are going.

This September I am moving to Kiev into an apartment given to us by Sasha’s father and she has asked me how much room I need for clothes as we design the fitting out. The simple answer is however much there is available. I will move with just my two cases, although I might top them up over time but whatever, I will not fret.

I will find out later if those missing files are locked in an eternal, unrecoverable heaven but I am not going to let it worry me.

I would much rather be with the real Sasha than brood over a missing photo, taken on a far away, beach when I hope she was thinking of me. The book was always going to be rewritten in the editing process so all I have done is change the process and not the thought.

As a little research, I did check the web and there were all the sites you would expect such as 50 Things Every Man Should Own.

I checked all the things I didn’t own and I don’t miss: a bottle opener I didn’t get for free at 2-for-1 night, a properly seasoned cast-iron skillet that’s seen its fair share of beef, a full-size umbrella without brand logos, a dopp kit for grooming on the go, or a pocket multi-tool for exploring the great outdoors.

If you really want to hurt me by depriving me of all that is important then take away my family, Sasha, friends, emotions, and memories. I will protect these with my life but don’t have any fear about that baggage consuming airport carousel.