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Archive for May, 2013

We’re always reminded in one way or another to appreciate what we have before it’s gone.  Sometimes we get the reminder in quite unexpected ways.

I’ve been working on a story in which the main character is experiencing a world where modern life has collapsed, electricity is gone, etc.  She knows just enough to get by for now, but winter is on its way and she isn’t sure she’ll survive.  In the midst of all this, she’s hanging her laundry outside and singing when she realizes she’s forgotten the next line of the song.

And she has no way of finding it again unless she can simply remember it.

There are no computers, no smart phones, no apps that she can look the lyrics up on.  She realizes in that moment that for all she knows, what she’s forgotten is forgotten forever.  For all she knows, no one else remembers it, either, and those words are lost to time.  This should be an entirely insignificant moment in her life, given all that she’s facing, but for her, it’s devastating.

It is this moment that prompts her to sit down and start writing out as fast as she can everything she can remember and doesn’t want to forget.  Every scrap of lyric, poem, saying, story, history or myth, anything she can bring to mind she writes down because in the whole of her small world, she has become the keeper of all that has been, of all that has come before.

The more we move towards computers being our connection to all that there is, the more we risk losing if that technology should ever fail us.  Perhaps not to the extreme that my story shows, but especially with so much music being downloaded, the lyrics aren’t conveniently printed on the inside of the CD cover any longer.  There isn’t a booklet inside the tape case or record sleeve.  There is a lot we may very well lose, to some degree, if we ever lose our modern technology.

It makes me want to breathe new life into the customs of storytellers, of minstrels and bards, of those who memorized or kept vast quantities of songs and stories to tell, passed on from one generation to the next so that it would not be lost.

It makes me want to start a written folder called “The Fall of Technology” and keep all my favorite songs and pictures tucked inside, “just in case.”

In my story, she does end up remembering the line she forgot.  Writing it down manages to bring it to mind and she gets at least that one song out fully.  But how many more has she forgotten?  In my story, she feels the weight of every word she’s missed.  There is a quote from a National Geographic that talks about an age where the entire language of a people was in the vocabulary of the best story teller.  A time before dictionaries.  A time when a word forgotten was lost forever.

Perhaps it isn’t as tragic as losing that last chance to make amends, or tell someone you love them, or the loss of a species… but maybe if we realize that even the small things can be gone before we realize it, then we’ll be more attentive to the big, important things in our lives, too.

Do something today that needs to be done, don’t put it off until it’s too late… you never know when it might be gone forever.

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