Memories in a Landfill

We hold millions of little memories in our heads, those snapshots of a birthday party or a mountain vista that we can easily recall on demand. A smell or a song can trigger them, and we’ll savor our mini slide show for a moment.

We wish and we need to preserve many of these memories forever. There’s a reason everyone’s got a phone in their hand when a one-year old is smashing that birthday cake in their face. There’s a reason we see posts of pictures of pairs of friends, a portion of the photo taker’s arm revealed in the shot.

We build monuments to remember things like wars and conflicts. We put up plaques on buildings to remind us that something or someone legendary once occupied the structure.

I made a list of career memories in my head yesterday while sitting in a beach chair watching my stepson play baseball.

  • The bands I played in
  • The music video I appeared in
  • The television shows I used to host
  • The outtakes of the movies I appeared in
  • The TV commercials I starred in
  • The MTV interstitials I hosted in the 80s
  • The public TV pledge drive appearances
  • The TV appearances I made on behalf of the radio stations I worked at

These memories, from the pedestrian to the priceless, washed over me. The more I recalled them, the sadder I became. A part of my being had been erased, a partition of my mental hard drive corrupted, never to be recovered.
It felt like percentage of me vanished into the ether, leaving only molecules of memory behind, blurry snapshots replacing long-form video. It will be difficult to retain these memories in the years to come. I had a chance to review my memories on Saturday and was surprised at what I had already forgotten. I resolved to remember it forever.

I have no evidence of the video adventures I was able to participate in over the years. My stories will now only be supported by a story told at a party or family gathering. If anyone says “I would love to see that!” I will have to sheepishly tell them an additional story.

On Saturday, I mistakenly dropped off a box at my local Goodwill that contained 30 years of my career video memories. I had set the box aside earlier in the day, vowing to convert the files and save them on my cloud drive, so I could have them forever.

The guy at the Goodwill yesterday said that my boxes were immediately sorted and “processed” Saturday afternoon. The stuff that they can’t sell is either recycled or taken to a landfill. He was only able to muster up the following: “Sorry dude, that’s a bummer. It happens all the time, unfortunately…”

It’s all gone.

I can’t be mad, I can’t cry. I can’t do anything about it.

I can’t blame anyone either. I am solely responsible for the disposal of a part of my life.

Memories in a Landfill 2
John Scott
John Scott is the career services manager and a media instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco. His second book, "You. Employed."is available in the Amazon book store.

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