My loss of about 5,000 photos from my Mac computer was, by any stretch of the imagination, only a minor disaster compared to the real and major disasters of life that many people experience. Yet, losing a year's worth of photos, pared down from about a total of seven or eight thousand total photos taken, and losing the hundreds of hours spent editing and fixing these photos, was not a pleasant experience. After all else failed, and no one at Apple, the Mac Store, or other techies were able to help me, I called upon Google, asking "How do I recover deleted memory card photos?" Google informed me of several memory card recovery software programs. I tried four and purchased one, for twenty dollars (cardraider.com) which gave me back about 470 photos, including the photos from our July family reunion, the most valuable of the lost photos. For about 48 hours this past week, I thought I had lost all 20,000 of my photos, but, fortunately, 15,000 were backed up on a protected drive.
All of this misery and time led me to think about disaster recovery in general. A couple of years ago, I had written a 150 page weight loss manuscript, and accidentally deleted it. What to do? I sat down and rewrote it from scratch in three weeks. No one ever wanted to read it anyway, but at least I proved I could recover from this disaster.
Nearly 40 years ago, I was diagnosed with MS in a Denver hospital while I was still at the University of Wyoming. I was asked by the president of Utah State University to resign from the position to which I had just been appointed, chairman of the economics department at Utah State, in view of the prognosis of my illness. For a year, I continued to exhibit all the classic symptoms of MS and then, miraculously, everything went away except for neuropathy in my toes. I have never had any recurring symptoms since. At the time, this event seemed an irreparable disaster. I decided that I would not miss any days from class and, for many weeks, had to teach sitting down and could not write on the blackboard. That Christmas, my oldest son had to put the toys together and be Santa Claus because the extreme fatigue that goes along with this ailment allowed me only shortened days of activity. I thought about how fortunate I had been as I listened to Michelle Obama tell the story of her father who contracted MS at an age similar to my case, and then eventually had to get up an hour early each morning to dress and get ready for work.
My wife has had three hospital emergencies, two of which she was fortunate to escape with her life. And then we lost a stillborn son many years ago. I will never forget all of those interminably long trips down the hallway of Brackenridge Hospital in Austin Tx to visit my wife, who spent weeks in intensive care with pneumonia which was serious enough to shut everything down in her system. Then, one day, I was called by the doctors to come back to the hospital from my daughter's home since they had decided to do a tracheotomy, otherwise she could not continue breathing. The trache was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more, not knowing what was happening. Then, about 4:00 p.m., a doctor came to find me with the news: "We don't know how this could possibly have happened, but beginning at 11:00 a.m., she started to rally, her body began to function again, and her life was spared."
What I learned from all of these experiences is that we somehow muster the courage to endure the disaster and make the best of it when we are actually confronted with it and become immersed in the middle of it. My oldest daughter says, in such circumstances, "What do you do?" The answer is, you just endure. But you don't give up. You don't ever, ever give up. We may feel sorry for ourselves for a bit, and we may even feel that we are better off if we let out a bit of emotion and whining. But these phases of our reaction to disaster, however natural and expected, cannot last long. Once we abandon hope, we have abandoned life. So we just keep going.
We live in two retirement communities. The depressing side of these residences is that we have continual news of medical emergencies of the most serious kind, and a few deaths a year in each community. Yet, when we see people, and ask how they are, everyone typically answers, "I'm fine". We may feel apprehensive about what is in store for us, particularly as we become older, but, somehow, as I watch my friends and neighbors, they adapt. They endure. They tell us about their new stent, their hip or knee replacement, their angioplasty and bypass surgery, their cancer treatments. And they go on with their daily lives. And they tell us they are fine.
I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Losing 5,000 photos wasn't a happy occurrence. But I can take 10,000 more in the next year, maybe some even better ones. That doesn't mean that I will ever trust my computer again, or any other technological wonder, for that matter. But I've fixed the problem the best I can, and am looking forward to the photos I can take tomorrow, and the next day, and the next months. If I get any good ones, I'll show them to you on my blog.