Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Making Plans (Part II)

So here's how it went yesterday. Remember, I had been making my plans on Monday for the week. There were two projects due for completion, one of which was a new submission for my "Art of Outrage" podcast series for Artscene Visual Radio, the other the completion of a 2,500-word catalogue text for the artist Masami Teraoka. I had been working on the latter during the week we spent in Laguna. For the former, I had the pre-recorded sound files of some interviews with artists, ready to be introduced with the narrative sections which were yet to be written and recorded. Still, the two days we have in town this week looked to be enough--just barely, I thought--to get both projects finished.

And then the disaster of Monday afternoon, mentioned yesterday in these pages. Returning home from our week in Laguna, I found that the sound files had disappeared from my computer. Every last one of them, with the exception of the file for a single interview which, when I opened it, I discovered to be empty. It was a case of "the computer ate my homework."

Panic time, right? I mean, such circumstances normally put me into panic mode. This time, nothing. Barely a ripple in the emotional surface. Somehow, my mind had decided that if the files were lost, they were lost. I would have to start over, explain my embarrassing predicament to the artists who had been kind enough to give me their time in the first place and, with their agreement, record another interview. First, though, I wanted to make the effort to see if they could be recovered.

I slept well. I got up in good time--though without haste and with still no sense of panic or approaching doom. I did my forty-five minute sit. I took an exercise walk around the hill with Ellie and George (by now you know who George is, no?) and cooked up some porridge (that's oatmeal to you Yanks) for breakfast. Then, before even broaching the computer problem, I took some time to review the work I had done on that catalogue text and passed it on to Ellie for her thoughts, as I often do. I trust her judgment in these matters.

Calm, see? I amazed myself. Then I got into the computer and searched for the files again. Nothing. The Garageband folders empty, seemingly dead. Did I panic? Not I! Cardozo--my part-time assistant arrived. I'd pinned my hopes on him, but he too found nothing. I put in a call to Apple support and waited for help while Cardozo went up to Ellie's office to help her with the library reorganization project she has embarked on. I waited...

I waited and waited. The first Apple supporter knew nothing about Garageband. I waited for another. Calm? Oh, yes. I managed to read a good few pages of "The Sutras of Abu Ghraib" (more on this at a later date.) I finally found someone who thought he could help, but then himself needed help from a more expert expert. I was on the telephone, friends, for two and a half hours non-stop!

The result? Nothing. No sound files.

Did I fret? Nope. I kept my head, I kept my calm--this meditation practice must be paying off, I thought! I decided, well, now is the time to surrender to this new reality. Then, at just about his quitting time, Cardozo decided that he wanted to give it one more try. I went upstairs, convinced that he would be simply wasting his time...

But no! Miraculously, a few minutes later, he followed me upstairs to announce that he'd managed to locate a file in backup--we had been trying to do this all day--and transfer it! Minutes later, we had the ones I needed. Well, not quite all, since one important piece, recorded after the last back-up date, was lost. But I had enough to put together a submission for "The Art of Outrage"! I listened to the recording, found it to be good enough to use, made some notes that will enable me to complete my submission, hopefully this morning. (There I go: another plan!) Not long after, Ellie came down with a big thumbs-up on my catalogue text, so that got sent off to the artist--a day ahead of schedule.

Wonderful. Then, in the evening, we had a terrific session with the artists' support group that we facilitate and host. A great evening, filled with useful and important work.

There's a valuable teaching in this experience, of course--the gift wrapped in shit: when I manage to stay calm no matter what comes at me, everything gets done. It's the staying calm that's the hard part.


robin andrea said...

What a fine lesson in letting go. I will have to remember this the next time my computer gobbles something and won't give it back. Good lesson about backups too.

David said...

Peter, thanks for the reminder to start meditating more regularly. Mine have been sporadic at best.

Glad you recovered most of the files. I recently got an external hardrive (USB and Firewire), and have been backing up regularly since. It's 250 gigs, more than twice the space on my actual computer, and at least once a week I copy everything to a dated folder and delete the oldest one (I always keep the latest two). I've lost a few things over the years, and though I aspire to have more patience, I also aspire to create fewer occasions to test it :)