My laptop hard drive died a glorious death last week. I found it, sitting on top of my bed in the afternoon sunlight, making furious popping sounds. Repeated attempts to shut down and restart were met with the dreaded flashing question mark. Worse, the computer's bones then burned up before my eyes like special effects in a movie, lines and lines of code splashing across the screen. As the words Complete System Failure sank into my brain I began to wail.
I have this awful habit of copying documents into different folders v. backing up the hard drive itself. DUH. So, a year's worth of writing, lots of drivel, and some bits I was happy with, GONE. I feel like I've had one of my organs removed, a kidney let's say, and am functioning at half mast. How surprising to learn that my words have become such a big part of my identity. Thankfully, I'd sent out a lot of "test balloons" (drafts of short stories) to friends, and so all was not lost.
Now I am chasing down my Muse, calling to her as she speeds over the hills into the back country of my mind. Wait, wait! I need to experience that grief, just one more time, to get the nuance of that bit of personal history I am trying to craft into Art. Show me your face, again, my Beauty, show me your tortured smile. I know there are jewels in your tears. The tears that heal romantic fools...and bring them back to the land of the living.
Anaïs Nin said, "We write to taste life twice," and there are some things I'd rather not taste again, thank you. But with my laptop I can. Composting life's pain into art is a joy and a practice. We must, as Pema Chödrön says, "Turn arrows into flowers by opening our hearts."
Photos by Toby Rowland-Jones