Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Packrat's Conundrum

I've written here about all the stuff I cling to -- books, papers, photographs, nes clippings, other miscellaneous paper goods that just sit in boxes waiting for me to open them, riffle through them, get frustrated with my inaction with them and then shove the boxes back into their storage places. I'm trying my darnedest to organize and cull the stuff I keep, but it's tough.

For example, my recent project involved pulling an apples box out of storage. In this box are about eight years' worth of personal journals, some mere computer printouts but most hand-written, and in many cases hand-doodled. (I was about to write "hand-decorated," but that gives way too much credit to my doodles than they deserve.) I've simply taken the computerized stuff, scanned it into the computer and made PDFs of the mess. The other stuff, including two years' worth of letters I sent my family while I was on my mission in France, is more problematic. I've already scanned in the journals, and am working on the letters now. The conundrum: Do I hold on to the paper records, or just satisfy myself in keeping the digital copies? Both options present pitfalls. If I keep the written records, I have to deal with their bulk. Perhaps they are more pleasing to riffle through, but I can't remember the last time I did so. Will my posterity want to riffle through them, or will they be happy with the digital copies? One flod, and all the paper is gone anyway. But again, if I keep only the digital copy, I risk losing them in some other way, either through fire or simply having the storage media crumble or become outdated.

So what's a packrat to do?

Share a bit of the memory, I suppose, while it's fresh, and before either paper deteriorates or digital copy is lost. So, behold: One of my favorite letters home.

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