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From Past to Present One Email at a Time

Recently, a human interest item on the news caught my attention – the gentleman being interviewed owned seven hard drives. Why was this news? Because he couldn’t bear to delete any emails or any other type of document that was sent to him. When there was no more room on the current computer, he simply bought another one.

I thought of this gentleman one day last week when I noticed that the number of emails in my Deleted Items folder was over 8,000. Unless I’m in denial, I don’t consider myself a hoarder in the sense of the person in the news story. For me, it’s more of a safety net; I let them sit in the trash until I’m absolutely sure that I don’t need the information any more, before I get rid of them permanently.

Combine the bad habits of forgetfulness and procrastination and voila…all of a sudden I have a lovely collection of emails from and sent to me dating back to 2005. I went to mass delete the year 2005 when something caught my eye. It was an email from my niece; at the time she sent it, she was in Scotland with her Highland Dance troupe from Winnipeg.

I became intrigued as to what other treasures I would find. I opened up several, one at time, and relived the excitement of moments seven years past – my sister writing to me in great detail about a man she was dating (she married him during Easter weekend of 2012); pictures of my niece with her boyfriend at the time (she will be marrying her someone special this July); Isabelle saying that she’s looking forward to my visit to Winnipeg at Christmas (we’re no longer in touch). Given that I tend to be (somewhat) emotional, I assumed that traveling back through time like this, knowing now what I didn’t know then, would make me sad enough to return to my original plan of mass deletion.

But quite the opposite happened. Even the emails about my dad were welcome reminders of the good moments, little vignettes of happy occasions that escaped my memory until I was taken back in time. As I’m deleting each one, I’m enjoying this exercise of acknowledgement and letting go.

Down to 6,836, I don’t think I’ll need a new hard drive just yet.

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