Death

Simplicity Security Self

It’s a strange time to be alive. We archive everything. Even these words will live an unreasonable amount of time, and reach an unreasonable amount of people should the server disk keep spinning. What does this mean for our children’s children? No more fragments of paper or newspaper clippings. No. Instead, pages and pages of journals, photographic journeys. Files and files of photographs. Art. Music projects abandoned. The sheer content is mind boggling. Our children will know us deeper than we can ever know our own.

I am reformatting about half of the drives in my house, as I dismember an old iMac before sending it to be recycled. It didn’t get much use anymore, and a small switch on the board for the LCD panel no longer wanted to play nicely. 7 years in working order. An amount of time tables from the 18thcentury would laugh at. But of the two items, only the computer could literally laugh, while it was in use. Those who burn brightest burn fastest, perhaps.

As I rather lazily scanned the remaining files on internal drives ripped from the system, I found a little folder named ‘Music’, and within it lay some of my more treasured files: only copy masters from semi-finished songs. A window into my previous life. A time warp when played. The songs transport me back to my one bedroom apartment when chief concerns were searching for coins in the couch to pay for band rehearsal space, and bottles of red wine. Always more attractive as a memory than a reality. The songs transport me nonetheless. They’re proving their value. They’re my first sentimental ‘items’ I’ve actively attempted to keep.

And merely considering this sentimentality as I dragged the songs from the soon to be de-commissioned SSD on death row, I realized that for the first time in my life I was considering death. I was considering what anyone who dares search would find. I was considering what a non-existent hypothetical grandchild might think of these works. It was a strange feeling, to know, as matter of fact, that I will die, and someone may want to hear these ideas after my demise.

A close friend’s partner gave birth to his first child this week. The next generation formed before our eyes. What would she think of her father? What files or records would she want to read or hear? What photographs?

Of course, it’s equally possible that the over saturation of content – the sheer volume of data – will work to remove any mystique that surrounds relatives and previous lives: the story of our own life. Perhaps generations born today will have so much data about their families through social media, photographs and blogs that they will be simply bored by it. Regardless, I heard an interesting take on a person that was starting a podcast (in an obviously over saturated market): he was doing it for no-one, except his son. He wanted to create a volume of conversations between him and his friends so that should his son wish, he can learn about what his father really was like.

Would you listen to a podcast your father hosted? It’s an interesting thought experiment. There’s no clear answer. It’s possible that an eye-roll is warranted. But I’m nearly certain that that eye-roll ceases once that person is in the ground.

I have no photo album. I have [virtually] no social media. There is this website, and there are fragments of songs. If never lost through some catastrophe, I’ll be leaving behind a small discography available for purchase to any interested person. I’ll be leaving behind web articles, opinion editorials and a few academic papers. But that is all public. That is all available to anyone who seeks. These ‘demos’ though – these unprofessionally recorded, half completed songs – they’re significantly more valuable to me. They’re the true window into a time period in my life.

And I’ve lost much more. Only today does this loss sink in. Today I realized for the first time the sheer quantity of music I’ve lost through apathy or carelessness. Music that I would never want to release publicly, but music that actually resonates with some form of sentimentality that I’ve not experienced prior. So be it. But having finally found something physical I value, I’m going to actively try to preserve what I’ve found today.

It’s not exactly carting around grandmother’s commemorative plates. These files are masters and take up half a gig in space. There’s very little excuse.

I’m going to treasure my one and only vinyl album a little more. A physical artifact from a simpler time. Giggling in the Hollywood hills drinking a Californian pale ale as the sun lazily sets behind another hill. A short walk down towards the end of the day bar to decompress with a tequila. A feeling of optimism, hope, and excitement that only LA can really bring. There are LA tourists, and then there is the American dream. The former see a city, suburbs, bars and shops. The latter are told where to drink, who to meet, and who to see. It’s an entirely different experience and one I’ll happily take to the grave. An experience money cannot buy. An experience felt by few, but still too many.

In the end, I fell out of love with performing and writing music. I became disillusioned, bored, unhappy. I was pleased to quit my final band, and I was more pleased to sell the mountains of redundant equipment. And yet for whatever reason, today, I’m happy to have found a few files. Files that act as a portal to that time. Sounds that ignite sights and smells and experiences from a completely different life.

We must all live life with a level of wondering. Wondering what if? Wondering if the right decisions have been made. I know I made the right choice. But by simply having the ability to make such a choice, I’m already fortunate. Many live their life in silence. Quiet to a gnawing pain. Weak to the messages of the mundane.

All I can do is implore you to do something different if it feels right. Sure, if you’re perfectly content and single minded, so be it. But if you’re wondering or wishing, do not continue. Change. Do something different. Live another life.

That is what I take away from my young adult years. I got to experience another life, and then decide to try something new. Nothing on the Earth is more valuable than experience, and time will wait for no man.