Starting from scratch

"Back up frequently."

You computer users, haven't you read these three words endless times? And do you do it?

I suspect there are those among us, for one reason or another, who neglect to heed such words of warning - people like me.

And woe is me.


Recently, my hard drive, which I had noticed was taking a bit more time to respond to my urgent commands, gave out completely.

Nothing I could do - from checking each and every connection to restarting and restarting and restarting, as I hoped that it was a momentary glitch - could get a response from that black screen.

I faced facts, made an appointment with one of the geniuses at the Genius Bar at my Apple store.

The genius confirmed my diagnosis: The hard drive was dead and would need to be shipped out to be replaced. Meanwhile, he added to my distress by confirming my belief that everything on the hard drive had vanished when it went to hard-drive heaven.

I had planned to shop for a bit and do some marketing once I finished at Apple, but I hadn't the heart for shopping after my traumatic loss, and I certainly didn't need to go to the market since my appetite had totally vanished - forever, I was sure.

Years of hard work vanished - gone, gone, gone. E-mails, e-mail addresses, letters, accounts, articles, pictures and junk among them. There was no way to retrieve them.

I thought about having a nervous breakdown, but one doesn't do that sort of thing in public.

My only alternative was to head for home and face the empty space on my desk.


After a night of waking and thinking about what to do - interrupted from time to time by sleep and dreams of monster hard drives standing around and sneering at me - I finally dragged myself up to face the new day.

I had not an idea of where to begin to restructure, so I decided to make myself a cup of coffee.

As I was setting up the coffeepot and finding the coffee, I was struck with the most amazing thought: I am starting over with a clean slate - no baggage.

What a freeing sensation.

As Christopher Robin put it, "I can think whatever I want to think. I can say whatever I want to say. There's nobody here but me."


Roberta Cole can be reached at

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