Putting Things in Perspective; It’s Just Stuff

They say less is more, but I’m having a hard time believing that right now. Friday night I lost all my electronic ‘stuff’; documents, pictures, music, everything. As soon as I realized it was gone, my heart sank to the floor. I literally thought I was going to throw up.

It was an accident. My son, Kyle, had run out of room on his Xbox hard drive. A new hard drive was on his birthday list and he asked me if anyone had gotten it for him. I said no, because no one had. I was still thinking about buying it, but it was late and I was tired. Besides, his birthday wasn’t until the next day. He asked if I had a memory stick he could use. I didn’t, but told him he could probably use my external hard drive since there was plenty of room on that. I’ve used the hard drive on both a PC and Mac with no problem so I figured storing things on the Xbox would be much the same. I was wrong. Apparently when Kyle plugged it into the Xbox, it asked him if he wanted to customize. He clicked ‘yes’ and it reformatted the drive. Just like that, years of data was gone. I hadn’t backed it up anywhere else because I was waiting to get our new laptop and put it all on there.

Kyle could see how upset I was. He just kept saying he was sorry and wiped away the tears from his eyes. I felt so bad for him because it really was an accident. Neither one of us thought anything would happen. We text my other son, Mitch, to see if there was anything we could do. He said no; it was all gone. And then he said, “it’s just stuff.” Sometimes your kids have to remind you what you already know.

I’m trying to put this in perspective. My mom went to the funeral of some friends yesterday who laid to rest their beautiful seven year old daughter. And I know they would gladly lose all their electronic ‘stuff’ just to have their daughter back. When I think about what they must be going through and the pain they must be enduring, I start to cry. I feel guilty for even thinking twice about my loss. And still, I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking about the photographs I’ll never have again or the documents I might need that are gone.

Yesterday I started reading Geneen Roth’s new book, “Lost and Found”, which is about what she learned when she and her husband lost their life savings in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.  In the beginning of the book, she tells her spiritual teacher about what happened. Jeanne, her teacher says, “I know this is shocking. And you will probably need to spend some time crying and feeling angry and grieving. But I promise you that nothing of value is lost.” I had to stop and think about that. Nothing of value is lost.

My friend Marian, who had contemplated losing all her electronic files recently, wondered what she would do in a similar situation. She decided if she lost all that stuff, she would survive and she’d have a lot less clutter. Well, she’s right…I will survive and I do have a lot less clutter. I’ve since found a lot of the photographs in other places; KodakGallery, Facebook, on my camera. And I know friends and family will have more of the missing photos too. All is not lost. And yet, I still have moments when I think about what happened and my heart sinks.

This morning I read a post on LifeByMe.com. It was called “Living in Courage” by Debra Oakland. From her bio, “Within six years, Debra Oakland lost her son, her unborn child, two brothers, and her father. Instead of giving up, she chooses to live in courage, joy, and power.” (www.livingincourageonline.com) Wow!  I don’t even know what to say to that. But it seems the Universe has conspired to help me see something beyond my own experience.

I’ve been wracking my brain as to why this situation has felt so devastating to me right now. After reading and hearing about other people’s experiences, I know I’m fortunate. And I am grateful for all I do have; my family, my friends, good health, a job I enjoy, food on the table and love in my heart. And yet, I have to wonder why I this hit me so hard on Friday night. Honestly, I feel pretty ridiculous even caring about it at all. But I committed to being honest and real on this blog. These are my real thoughts and feelings…whether I like them or not.

My friend Denita wondered if this loss hit me so hard, because I haven’t quite recovered from the last big loss I suffered in my life. Maybe she has a point. There are days when losing the person I thought was the love of my life, rocks me to my core. So I know those feelings are still there and it doesn’t take much to bring them to the surface. But I also know that experience, any experience, really, leaves me with a choice. I can choose to learn and grow from it, or I can let it destroy me. The balance I’ve chosen is to acknowledge and feel my feelings; even the ones that hurt. But not let that pain work it’s way in and poison my beliefs about life and love. Some days that’s tricky.

I imagine in a year, losing all my data, won’t even matter to me. And that’s really how I try to gauge the importance of things. But part of this journey is to not apologize for how I feel about something…no matter what you might think of me. I want to be true to myself at any given time, feel those feelings and learn from them. Part of the process of authenticity is learning to accept that sometimes I let things bother me more than I should. That’s just part of being human. Debra Oakland says, “It takes courage to believe in ourselves, to be our true authentic selves, never apologizing for who we are.” I’d like to think I have that kind of courage…at least some of the time.


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