18. Poetry

I like to hold on to things. I guess I’m a pack rat. But every now and then I’ll strike a mood that transforms my spirit and calls me to clean out the catacombs of my world. My office is usually the first target of attack. Yesterday began my assault.

I started by sifting through hundreds of old papers, notes, letters and books with a mind to throw away anything that I hadn’t used or needed in years. I felt a rush of excitement as I broke through the walls of old habit. I couldn’t believe it. What had gotten into me? I was actually throwing stuff away – stuff that I’d been hanging on to forever.

My thoughts turned to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where officials measure the success of a parade by the amount of trash – in pounds — cleared from the streets after the floats pass by. I thought that if I were to similarly judge my efforts I would have to award myself a gold medal. I must’ve gotten rid of well over 100 pounds of junk – notebooks, catalogs, and papers.

Capping off my manic frenzy to purge, I made the final decision to even throw away my Compaq portable computer of twenty years. I surprised myself with that decision, though for years the machine had been just sitting unused on the floor of my office. “This,” I thought, “would be the day that I was finally going to chunk it.” Well, that’s at least what I thought.  

I carefully put my old computer in the trashcan and stood there for a minute in silence. I began to question my choice as I looked at that old machine resting on top of the heap. I started to reason: “Many of my old thoughts might be locked inside this box of twenty years. Before I throw it away, I must at least empty her of anything valuable.” And with my left-brain then in charge I reached back into the trashcan and rescued my old faithful Compaq. I lugged her back to my office to see if, by chance, she would power on.

I plugged in the machine and opened it up to reveal the small monochrome monitor and keyboard. Then, crossing my fingers I flipped the power switch and watched as a single bright horizontal line appeared on the screen, something I’d never seen before.

The line’s appearance was followed by an abrupt popping noise and a spark that shot out of the rear of the machine. I quickly turned it off hoping that the whole thing didn’t catch on fire, and I let it rest for a minute. I flipped the switch on again and witnessed a single puff of smoke exhausting from the computer’s side. But this time there was no horizontal line. In fact, it looked like the computer might very well boot up after a twenty-year rest.

With my old machine up and running I started to fish around just to see what I could find. Among my discoveries were many wonderful and personal reminders of days lost to the winds of time. There were business and personal letters, notes to myself, projects — everything just as I’d left it some twenty years ago.

I guess that I’m truly a man of the computer age, rummaging through bits of electronic data frozen on a magnetic disk rather than through old trunks or boxes hidden in the attic.

Day 18 Guide

Sometimes it helps to look in the rearview mirror. It’s good to hang on to the common threads in your life.

© 2006, Levi Hill

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