A crucial life lesson I learned from a digital “freak accident.”
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.— Martha Graham
A couple of weeks ago, I learned a life lesson that was both uncomfortable and liberating (as, I guess, most life lessons are wont to be).
Now, what happened was what I can only refer to as a digital “freak accident”: while trying to transfer a single photo of a Buddha statue so I could use it for my newly recorded self-compassion meditation (go figure!), I accidentally deleted most of my computer files.
I still don’t really know how this happened but I assume the combination of a full workday and what we could call “quarantine brain” contributed to it. (That, or the Buddha wanted to teach me a lesson about non-attachment.)
Using a file recovery program yielded no helpful results. And while I have a backup of my computer files, that backup is almost five months old.
So, I irretrievably lost almost all the work I have been doing over almost five months… or have I?
You can’t lose what you’ve given away
While trying to assess the damage I had managed to inflict on myself in a matter of seconds, I went through some unpleasant emotions.
If you have ever lost files, you know that part of the discomfort is around not exactly knowing what you’re even missing in the first place.
But as I mentally went through the most important files I could think of, I started to relax.
My husband, on the other hand, didn’t:
“What about your book? Is THAT gone?!?”
I waved his concern aside: “No, no. That’s published.”
Hubby: “Your articles?!?”
Me (starting to feel a little bit better): “Published.”
The same is true for my recent videos, audios, and fiction stories.
They’re all published.
That single word immediately alleviated most of my concerns. And it also helped me grok an important lesson:
You can’t lose what you’ve given away to others.
The safest way to backup your work
This incident helped me realize that I had been on the right track for the last couple of months. You see, at the end of last year, I decided to practice what I call “the art of finishing things.”
For the last few months, I have made it a point to complete half-written articles or stories and to publish them. To get things out into the world instead of keeping them on my hard drive.
And because of that practice, I have only lost a couple of files that are not even that important.
In fact, the only files that are irretrievably lost are the ones I created only for myself. For instance, I had a long document where I kept interesting quotes, facts, or tidbits of information that I liked. That’s gone.
But everything else isn’t.
This made me realize that there’s an almost fail-safe way to backup your work: share it!
When it comes to your creations, think like a whistleblower who has crucial information: spread them wide and far.
Share your work publicly.
The wider you cast your net and the more hands you can get it into, the less likely it is that your work will be lost for good.
The worst way to keep your work is to leave it sitting on your electronic device.
The safest way to “backup” your creative output is to distribute it to other people.
This reminds me of another lesson I learned about the importance of giving your gifts while you can:
“Leave it all out on the field”
Back when I worked long hours in a law firm, I started an exercise routine from home. (Yes, I worked out at home before it was cool!)
The video series I followed was taught by Nicky Holender, who used to be a professional soccer player. And during one of the workouts, he would say something along these lines:
As my coach used to tell me: you can’t take it with you so leave it all out on the field.
Something about these words coming from a person who used to be a professional athlete inspired me to push harder in my workout than I usually would.
Because it’s true… in a soccer match, you only have 90 minutes or so to make your play, and once it’s over, it’s over.
More importantly, though, I realized that the same also applies to other areas of life. The reality is that we will all leave the playing field that we call physical existence (or “life”) and when we do, we cannot take anything with us — so there’s no reason to hold it back.
Now, what’s something that you haven’t yet left out there on the field…but know you should?
An imagination exercise that helped me feel braver
I once played around with a little mental imagination related to the idea of death. Since I got so profound insights from it, I’d like to share it with others.
I tried this out after listening to a Podcast episode where a woman shared about a pivotal moment in her life. She talked about a near-death experience during which she left her physical body and, from that place, was able to see that she had been struck down by lightning.
In case you haven’t read about near-death experiences before, it might be good to know that according to research, these often have positive impacts on people’s lives. Potential after-effects include a higher appreciation for life and a great desire to serve others.
Hearing about this woman’s experience had me wonder if I could gain some of the same insights without, you know, the whole “having to be struck down by lightning”-part of it. And while a near-death experience is obviously not quite the same as a “dry run” in one’s head, I got a ton of value from it.
What I told myself was this:
“Now, Bere, imagine that you’re dead and have just left your physical body. Look at your life with those eyes. Walk through your day-to-day experiences as if you’re not in your physical body anymore. What do you care about?”
When I did this, I realized that there are many things that I wouldn’t care about if I were dead. I wouldn’t care about anyone criticizing my work. I wouldn’t care about my fears (after all, if I’m dead, what do I have to fear?). I surely wouldn’t let my fears hold me back from sharing what I want to share.
To apply this to your own life, what are some concerns about giving your gifts that you could let go of right now, without needing to be struck by lightning?
I think the following quote by Natalie Babbit perfectly summarizes the point I’m trying to make in this article:
Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.
You and me, we don’t have forever. And that’s actually a good thing because it forces us to make our lives count.
It’s time to “backup” your work by sharing it with others.
It’s time to leave it all out on the field.
It’s time to share your gifts.
Did you like this article?
Was it helpful for you?
Are you glad you read it?
May I help you share your gifts?
I have created a 3-part video series (a 30 USD value) that I'd love to give you for FREE! If you'd like to check it out, just click on the button!