Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The soul of my computer

When we got back from our last trip, my computer was dead. It wasn’t a catastrophe because I had backed up everything on my external hard drive so that I’d have access to all of my writing and photos in St Louis.

Dave took the tower down to our computer repair shop and when it was done, I brought it home and connected all the wires. The screen came up with all the appropriate icons and programs, but the soul of my computer was gone. My daughter’s laughing faces didn’t greet me from the desktop. Gmail didn’t know who I was. Ten years of manuscripts were missing. Two and a half years of photos of my grandsons were gone. All the files were empty.

Dave’s laptop and my computer use the same operating system and are pretty much the same in many ways. But my computer always opened photos with Microsoft Picture Manager and we worked well together. Dave’s computer favored Serif and I couldn’t use it at all. The book I’m writing was only three clicks away in my old computer. I need ten double clicks to find it on my external hard drive. This computer tower hunkered beneath my desk is not my computer!

I know that I can reload everything from my external hard drive back onto my desktop, but I won’t. The external drive will become old storage like the 3 ½” floppies I have in a fire proof safe under my desk – archived, but not easily accessible. Ten double clicks is too cumbersome for files I use daily or weekly. Gradually, I’ll even forget what files are on my external hard drive.

Gradually, my computer will develop a soul again, but it won’t be the same computer and it won’t have the same soul. I won’t accidentally run across the letter from the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer accepting my article on natural dyes. I won’t glimpse Newton and the cat BC playing when Newton was a puppy or a single thistle blossom glowing in the late afternoon sun.

I am a different person than I was last year or five years ago, and so, my computer will have a new soul, and by extension, become a new computer. Today, I will begin by finding a new photo of my daughters to smile out at me from my desk top.

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