I’ve spent the evening backing up files. I don’t know why I always wait until my computer is exhibiting signs of pending terminal failure to do this. When it comes to computers, it’s like I’m a procrastinator in the league of Scarlet O’Hara, or I just feel “too busy” to do it. The funny thing is, I know that there are plenty of ways to back up my computer quickly and painlessly, but I just don’t take the time. The best way, of course, would be to do it frequently so it’s not such a chore. But in my world, “just get it done” applies more to dishes and workouts than saving files. Isn’t one of Dante’s levels of hell in the Inferno reserved for chronic computer backup procrastinators? The tenth level, I think, and I’ve got my spot all picked out.
As I skim the files in Windows Explorer, which has stopped accepting almost every command, titles of old documents brush up against my memory like a gentle wind. Oh, yeah, I remember that one. I wrote that? And, more frequently, I look at the date the file was saved and think, I wrote that – when? Has it been that long ago? Surely that letter to my friend wasn’t written four years ago? Should I keep it? Should I back that up? Why should I save something now that I only have because, chances are, I was just too lazy to delete it four years ago?
And there it is – there are things we keep, even though we don’t know why. I think it boils down to two things: sentimentality and laziness. First, we’re too darned lazy (or “too busy”) to go through and get rid of stuff we don’t need and, second, we can’t admit or accept that we don’t need it. When it comes to weeding through clothes, for example, I find that suddenly I have an attachment to that item I haven’t worn since 1992, the thing that has a Litehouse Bleu Cheese dressing stain on the pocket that prevents me from wearing it in public. I can’t fit into it anymore anyway, and it’s missing three buttons. But, dang it, I might just lose a little weight and feel like wearing it around the house on a crisp fall morning. I say this in April, while eating a pancake.
Whether it’s a laziness, sentimental attachment, or the expectation of needing it later, we keep a lot of stuff that merely clutters our closets, files, and lives. The sad part is, we know we would be better off if we uncluttered our worlds. We know that a clutter-free environment lends itself to a calmer mental sea. We recognize that we’d spend less time managing things and more time improving our relationships and lives. And yet, here I am.
I scan the list of documents. There’s a Christmas letter from 2013, an old blog post draft, and a document called “Quotes I Like” that hasn’t been opened since the day I saved it in 2012. And that letter. Would I ever need to recall that letter to my friend? Would I ever need to cite it or rewrite it? No, no, and no. Honestly, it’s like I’ve held on to so much simply because it’s just easier to keep it.
Of course, it’s only meant to be temporary. I always fully intend to go back through and clean stuff out. Like that letter that I kept. I only meant to save it temporarily until it was sent. But then I forgot to go back and delete it, and the storage space it took up was minute, less than 50 kb. It was pure, polished laziness on my part, and now my computer is full of files that could be junk or could be gold.
But I’m too lazy to go through them all right now and decide their fate.
So I’m backing them up.