My Own Data as Buried Treasure
There I was, looking for a very old CD of music that is long out of print, was in a very short print run to begin with, and was otherwise unobtainable. It was music from a Boston band that never made it big. It was a combination of the music from Cloud Factory and Only Breathing, two vinyl albums from the band O-Positive, who I saw live many times in my younger days.
However, then in one very dusty, but amazingly sturdy Caselogic case was a set of disks. Some were music CDs, some were computer. In there was a set of 4 disks labled Backup #1 — #4. The motherload. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The music disk wasn’t in there, but what was was something I won’t have another chance to get back. In August of 2000 I bought my first digital camera. I loved it so much I stopped using my film camera entirely. My last photos on film were taken during the Summer of 2000. My next record of digital pictures are dated late 2006 onward. There is a 6 year gap of my life missing. At first I was horrified. Some of the photos show me as I looked post divorce and I was a mess. Also, 2000 was a year I was really depressed, due in part to the divorce, and with that came a lot of weight gain. I am thankful I got control of that.
I found pictures of family and friends as well. Within were vacations I forgot I was on. I found photos of Nashville as it looked when I first moved here. It was a very different world.
However, I found something even more important. I found email back ups. That was a totally different world. It was the story of my recovery from divorce and coming to grips with the many implications of being a catholic who got a divorce. It was a story of how my much more naive self found his way forward. Reading it at first was painful because I could see all of the mistakes I was about to make. However, it was also beautiful, because I could see how earnest I was, and what strength I really did have and didn’t know. I saw how difficult it was to move forward. I saw how much life was changing as the Internet began its takeover of social interactions.
I found charming voices among the people I conversed with. I found people were very open with me, for the most part. I found some people never were and I watched my hopeful self continuing to talk to them even though they were largely putting up a front and not showing their real soul. In hindsight it is amazing how many people I conversed with for years without ever having met them, because they kept people at arms length. Though, now, where privacy is really no longer a thing, it was easy to see who was at least close to real and who were just complete fabrications.
It is interesting and important to come across this material so that I might reflect on what I have learned, and what has become more deeply ingrained into my personality. I also have a new narrative to my life. Memory is a fragile thing, and you forget details and fill in the gaps incorrectly over time. This has really changed a lot of what I once thought about that period in my life, that transition post-divorce into the person I am today.
I think if you have anything like this yourself, it’s worth exploring. Looking back to see how far you have come isn’t a waste of time.