Last week what should have been a complete catastrophe happened to me. My beloved hard drive stopped working out of the blue.
One second everything was there, then the next, nothing could be found on any computer I plugged it into. I thought I had lost everything I’ve ever written since deciding to maybe,
Five or more years of my badly-written stories. My amateur poetry. My school work. My life-changing, budding, but horrid, manuscript that I’d been piecing together through and after undergrad that I’m too self-righteous to let go of—all gone.
So naturally, I panicked for the duration of my work shift, did my Googles, and tried to figure out what exactly had happened. Did the drive crash? It couldn’t have because the light was still blinking; the drive was still buzzing, so the mechanics were still intact, acting as it always had, warning me that everything would be okay.
I Youtube’d help. I bought a brand new USB cord and two-day shipped it.
I panicked some more.
Tried rebooting my computer.
Panicked for a day or so, panic-texted my mama, and then decided to wait it out like I do most things that don’t go my way. But I wasn’t panicking at the thought of my hard drive potentially being gone, I was panicking because I realized that deep, deep, down the source of most of my anxiety was obsolete and I was relieved.
All of my life’s work I had been obsessively creating was no longer preying on my life. I had nothing to complete. To finish. To revise. Without it there, always in front of my eyes and in the back of my mind, I could start over. Do what I want. Write about what I want, or at least give the façade of doing so. And I could do it all from scratch. Without my hard drive, I didn’t feel weighed down by what I thought should be my meal ticket. Without my hard drive, I began to realize how entitled I am when it comes to my talent and how those expectations I placed on myself consumed most of my free time.
Over the past few years, I’ve been attempting to become some slight form of a minimalist. I’m on board for anything that eliminates unnecessary things from my life. In my apartment there is nothing but a bed, a table, a desk and its chair, a futon, and a TV that I rarely turn on anymore; and even with this, some days I still find myself so discombobulated by it all I can’t focus on anything. That’s why I’m constantly storing and putting away boxes and throwing away food and hiding my own things. It feels good to not be consumed with too much stuff.
But even in the midst of trying to accomplish this lifestyle change, I know I’ll never be okay with freeing myself from words. This fear I have of missing out on language keeps me in the game. Which is why I have a hard time getting rid of books (an overloaded bookshelf is also stationed in the corner of my apartment), papers filled with notes from writing workshops and professors correcting my grammar, and text messages from people I haven’t spoken to in years. So as I watched my hard drive slip away from my grip, and the longer I went without it, the more I asked myself why did I care about the possibility of losing so much work that I never planned to publish in the first place?
I assume the attachment comes from possessing a physical display of how I’ve grown in my writerly journey. This hard drive shows the setbacks, the comebacks, and how important craft is to me. My hard drive is a representation of how I’ve moved through time and space, but it’s also a representation of where I’ve refused to go and what I’ve refused to let go of. And I’m not sure if I would be worse off—artistically and mentally—if it all crashed into an abyss at once. So when the new USB cord I purchased didn’t do the trick, I didn’t care. So I just started to delete everything from my desktop and downloads. Thought I was cleansing myself. Trashing everything. But something told me to try the hard drive again, and when I plugged it in and the drive’s designated name of “SHIT I NEED” popped up on my desktop, I couldn’t help but think I almost got away without showing people I gave up.