What Are You Archiving?
My neighbor moved this week and it caused me to think of the boxes I have stored away – all that I’ve archived.
Boxes in the attic are one thing; memories, expectations, and dreams are something else. My first discovery
regarding software and archiving was that once I archive data, I never access it. My second discovery was that I didn’t even know where it was stored. This intrigued me. So I examined the archive files on my computer as a way to begin exploring the topic. As an analogy, it poses an interesting question. What ideas, emotions, and memories am I archiving, and do I even know where to find them? Are the files so compressed
that I wouldn’t recognize them, or their value?
When I talk to families about their vacations and work/life issues, I will ask them to describe their most memorable vacations. The answers are often about a location they have visited. I’ll pose the question again emphasizing the word memorable. In most cases a different thought process ensues and the stories take on a life of their own – ranging from touching to disastrous, and are usually quite interesting.
As I began my “official” archiving exploration, I sat down alone, closed my eyes (to focus), and asked myself a similar question. What are my most meaningful memories? Several images appeared center stage. I sensed there were others waiting in the wings. So mentally, I directed them in age groups (as a child, an adolescent, young adult, etc.) and encouraged 2 or 3 images in each group. I wanted to include different ages and aspects of my experience. This brought some interesting memories into focus. I mentally encouraged them to decompress - allowing full expansion and expression. Complete productions could have easily taken place, but I was eager to explore further.
I changed the assignment from memorable to challenging. What are my most challenging memories? The most intense experience took center stage, not the most recent. This happened most of the time. I didn’t have to try to think of something. Images, scenes, and storylines simply appeared, as if they were waiting for an invitation to perform.
I continued. The next assignments were to identify the most self-defining memories, and then the most fulfilling. My experience was fascinating and fulfilling in itself. I found myself moving deeper into the experiences. I began layering the exercises to include the initial cast of images and encouraging another level. What’s beneath this, and this – like rummaging through an enormous cluttered closet.
I moved from using the word memory to the word experience. Memory implies the past and some of the images that emerged were dreams and expectations. Interestingly, these had been compressed and filed along with actual experiences. I realized that I hold them as close to my heart as actual events. As a family, we share the dreams and possibilities; this makes them real – maybe not actual, but real. Similar to virtual, I guess. Our family has an ever expanding menu for Isabel’s Café that we’re always testing. Somewhere Isabel’s Café exists.
Throughout the week, I continued to explore archiving. I remembered an experience I had doing research at the Library of Congress. How extraordinary it was. With white cotton gloves covering my hands, I held in reverence the photographs of Ansel Adams, Aflfred Stieglitz, Dorthea Lange, and others. I hadn’t thought about this in a long
time. But I remember sensing (or attempting to sense) the full expression and experience that each image portrayed. This was a significant recognition for me, then and now. As I continue the exploration of archives, I will examine my images, ideas, and ideals with equal respect and admiration.
Join me. Let me know about your experience. I’ve found the archives easily accessible.
You just have to take the time.
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