Sunday, April 17, 2011

of heavenly filing cabinets. what else!

i used to think what a wonderful thing it would be to have a record of your whole life.  every conversation, every action, every silent prayer recorded somewhere, some heavenly file cabinet of me.  so nothing is lost.  so if ever i wanted to fact-check or remember or return, it'd all be there.

it'd mostly be nice for all the things i should have written about in my journal but never did.  like the days spent so in love that i couldn't take 5 minutes to record the comings and goings of "us".  and transcriptions of the beautiful conversations: spencer the nights before he left on his mission, nathan the sundays before he got married, the goodbyes, the hellos, the first-meetings of people who changed my life, though in the moment i had no idea they would.  a neat notebook of all the advice my mother has given me.  another notebook of all the advice my father has.  it'd be nice to reread those things.

there'd be a drawer full of all the letters i've written and all the ones i've received, organized neatly to form entire epistolary conversations.  (and there'd be a box or two of all the notes i wrote/received in middle school and high school...complete with a glossary of all the nicknames we gave boys so in case the note was intercepted, nary a soul would know who our crushes were.)

there'd be several rows of shoeboxes full of snapshots of the moments of my life that i was too involved in living to get a snapshot of.  
4 yrs old: going to the corner candy store for lemonheads and sixlets with mom and nate.  
7 yrs old: throwing up at the dentist after he ripped my front tooth out.  
11 yrs old: riding bikes to king's for penny candy.  
14 yrs old: first church dance (holy awkward)  
16 yrs old: matthew and i in art class, whispering.  
21 yrs old: hugging jimmy goodbye before pyper and i got back on the ferry.

there would probably be a yearbook of every person i've ever known, with a brief bio next to their picture of their involvement in my life (and i in theirs).  

and best of all, there would be shelves and shelves of the things that were too ephemeral for my seive-y brain to capture:  the songs my brain invents when i am coming out of dreams but that evaporate as soon as i open my eyes.  the paintings i would have painted if i had the time&talent.  the emotions i could never quite figure out how to express in words.

needless to say, sometimes i become obsessive about documenting everything.

today, over a little death cab at our weekly music at 10, i had the very odd thought "what if gmail collapsed".  you know, one day it just doesn't work, and all your emails are gone.  all those chats, all those contacts, all those witty dialogues between you and x.  in a way, email and texting have become that heavenly file cabinet.  and our conversations are shifting from being mostly the face-to-face, unrecorded sort to email's long reply-reply-reply email chains.  which is great.  there's nothing quite like being able to search your entire web interactions for the past five years and bring up a conversation in a matter of seconds.  if only my brain worked that way, what a different world.

but for what good?   to have a handy search engine of my contacts so at the snap of a finger i can email anyone i'd like?  to actually have the transcription of every conversation?  so i can relive the reasons why x relationship didn't work out?  or all the reasons why i wished that it had?  to spend precious Present hours looking back to photos and conversations and memories of a Past i loved, but that is still a Past? 

perhaps it's a grace to only have snippets.  to not be able to record everything.  to remember just wisps, just the very fuzzy edge of the feelings of moments rather than silver gelatin prints in all their crisp clarity.  perhaps it's good to let some things be said just between you and me, and then to let them float off, unrecorded, into the ether.

perhaps sometimes, it's good to know how to let go.


  1. love your thoughts.
    Also, do kids still write notes to their friends in middle and high school? or do they just text? I think it is really sad if they don't. I treasure my box of notes from friends (with all our code names haha).
    But ya, sometimes I think it is better to not have access to all those memories.

  2. this. this is something I struggle with everyday. And you put it beautifully into words.