Lost Things and My Recent Literary Meltdown
By J. L. Thurston
This morning I had a literary meltdown. A small one, so don’t call the cops or anything.
It all began as I was backing up my phone and accidentally deleted All. My. Notes.
Why is that worthy of the type of meltdown only a writer can experience? I’ll tell you. Like a fool — a stupid, empty-headed fool — I had saved some of my writing in the form of notes on my phone. I told myself last week to enter the notes into the computer, or at least make a hard copy because technology and I have a long and clumsy history together. But I decided the best way to protect the notes was to backup my phone, and then poof! they were gone.
I am forced to mourn a pet project of mine that I have been secretly quite proud of. Lately, I’ve become something of a poet. I have no clue if what I write is any good, but I enjoy it thoroughly. Inspiration comes to me usually when I’m behind the wheel. I have a forty-five-minute drive twice a day on the days I work. The road is open, empty. A country interstate. My mind can fly while my body goes into autopilot. Instead of taking pen to paper in these times, I use Talk-to-Text and enter my poems into my Notes app.
And today I deleted them. All of my work, all those beautiful words. Gone.
Or are they? They came from my brain, surely there are pieces of them in there still. Perhaps deleting the notes was my subconscious telling me that those words were only practice. Something more splendid may come forth now that I’ve cleaned out the space.
I remember when I lost my entire collection of CDs when I moved. Then my hard drive corrupted and I lost a majority of the songs I had in my computer (this is pre-iPhone, kids). I was sad, angry, lost without my tunes. But then it became oddly freeing. I became obsessed with exploring new songs, finding new music to replace the songs I’d lost. I began to discover new sounds I had never noticed before in my old comfortable bubble. Now I listen to damn near everything, and I’m not sure if that would have happened had I not lost five hundred songs or so.
Then there was the story of the ring. My ring. When I was in junior high, my mother gave me a Claddagh. For those of you who don’t know, a Claddagh is a symbol sprouted from Ireland. It is usually a ring, always bearing a crowned heart inside of two hands. It means love, loyalty, and friendship. Tradition says the Claddagh cannot be bought for oneself, but must always be given as a gift. When my mother gifted me the little silver ring I never took it off. I went through the hardships of adolescence with that ring, I went through high school with it. I took it to L.A. and kept it on during the transition back home. Though at the time it was nothing more than my ring, it had been with me through a lot of shit.
Then, in an act of youthful carelessness, I took it off to swim in my parent’s backyard. I tossed it toward my towel, missed, and thought, oh well, I’ll get it later. It was never found. I even took a metal detector to their backyard, but it was lost. I thought maybe the dog ate it.
That was more than ten years ago that I lost that ring, and just a few weeks ago my mother called me to tell me a friend of hers had found it. He’d been searching her backyard with his own metal detector and unearthed a ring buried four inches in the ground.
After more than a decade lost, I was given back the ring I had been gifted in junior high. My point is that, though I have just lost a lot of precious writing, I don’t fully believe that it could be gone. Like my ring, I think those words will return to me. They will reappear in a different form, but I can’t believe that they are totally gone. Or, like my music, losing those words is an opportunity for something even better.
I’m sad that I lost those notes, but if my past has taught me anything, it is that lost things come back in one way or another.