In preparation for reformatting a computer that had been crippled by the seemingly inevitable degradation of a Windows installation, I found myself backing up years of documents onto a DVD a few weeks ago in S. Cal. I came across one of many screenplays I had started writing ages ago, but had totally forgotten about.
“Wow, this is really interesting. I wonder how this is going to develop.”
I catch myself freshly intrigued by a character that was only 6 pages old. By page 18, the screenplay ended. In a sudden flash, I remember how the thread of the plot got mentally tangled, and re-lived some of the frustration I had felt when I originally was working on that story.
“Man, this has potential. I should work the kinks out of this…”
There were at least 5 screenplays on that computer, each about 20% complete, but unfortunately that doesn’t trade up to 1 screenplay 100% complete. Aside from that, several dozen documents containing sketched concepts for other screenplays, a few documents containing an impressively thorough analysis of a few good movies, and loads of other screenplays that I had studied in the process of trying to write one myself.
Moments later, I’m sifting through tons of spreadsheets and documents I had generated while consulting for a startup trying to define the online collaborative content creation space. First, I’m stunned by a complex model I developed to forecast market-size and revenue for this company, mostly because I didn’t understand or remember how I did it. Then I’m re-stunned by some of the contacts I had developed at publishing houses, and manufacturers in the nascent e-book hardware industry circa summer of 2000.
“I wonder if she’s still at Scholastic?… I knew someone at Random House? … Why haven’t I kept up with those people? … I should see if I can make use of those contacts…”
Though my analysis said that this company couldn’t go very far, part of the space the company was trying to create has manifest in the growth and popularization of blogs. A greater manifestation is something closer to collaborative open content development like what iJourney does with stories of serviceful and inspiring people. So much for my analysis being worth its weight in beans.
“Hmmm… maybe the ripe moment for this idea has come…” and I catch myself feeling a little tug to explore it some more. Are NDAs binding for defunct companies?
Then I’m fishing through tons of documents from my healthcare foundation days. I freshly recalled the days of wrangling the support of officers, and then the executive leadership of the foundation around a project inspired by the boldness I saw in an octagenarain ophthalmologist from South India. The self-gratifying sensation of being the project manager of a team of people with way more formal education than myself again rushed through my head. The odd, yet egotistically titilating thrill of interviewing and screening professionals for the project who had been in the field for 20 of the 24 years I had been alive at the time had been dangerously intoxicating. Just when the project was about to grow its wings, it became a casualty of the post-9/11 era where public policy was dominated by anti-terror planning.
“I should try and re-market this proposal. I bet there are great researchers at other public health schools that would bite if this were dangled…”
“What a stunning love poem!”
I try to reconnect to the moment in my life where such things flowed through me, shifting uncomfortably as I peruse through an impressive collection of poems apparently written by me.
“I should really make more time for poetry,” I think, recognizing that if I write enough poems, I inevitably end up with a few treasures within the heap of garbage.
Next I’m backing up megabytes of sound effects, graphics, and 3D CG models from the handful of video projects that friends and I have thrown together over the years. Laughing while re-living some of the memories triggered, I think about how its now so much easier to make this kind of stuff and how perhaps I should burn the best half-dozen videos on a DVD reel of ‘the glory days.’
“So many people would really appreciate copies of this stuff. Maybe I should gift it to them at some point…”
Over the next few moments, I think about how to propel some those re-awakened impulses forward. For the next few minutes, I’m seduced by the concept of creating what amounts to an online shrine to my ego, a space on the web, rahulbrown-dot-com, where I can put it all out there and anyone who wants anything ripe can just pick it up, but more importantly, gaze at the dazzling temple of my existence– Muuhahahahaha! Actually, it was only after I realized how egotistical the idea was that I killed it… though it actually seemed like a good idea for those brief few minutes. Besides, doesn’t my blog already function as my personal propaganda and self-glorification machine?
Then a realization struck. I’ve lived so many lives within the span of this one life. I can’t remember the vast majority of what happened in most of those lives, but they still have their attractions and aversions that hide just below the surface, ready to assert their control in opportune moments. More dangerously, there was a real part of me that wanted to move forward with all of these elements of prior life. How much time would it take to fulfill all those impulses? Is there an end to those desires?
Even if I didn’t believe in reincarnation, my life had just manifested the essential principles of reincarnation in my own psyche. So many desires, triggers, and hooks from the past that invariably suck me back into situations requiring greater committments of energy and action, forming a positive feedback loop amplifying til something begs escape. Creating an ‘avatar’ of myself online would have been yet another birth in a series of what could continue indefinitely if unchecked. Generally averse to metaphysical abstractions so abundant in spiritual lingo, it became so clear none was needed to believe in reincarnation anymore. The metaphysical reduced to the actual right there before me. I’ve already lived and died many times over the last few decades, yet I remain essentially the same. The same flawed dude under all the hats and overcoats.
“Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.”
Mike scrawled down the latest in the midst of a heated, two-way Palindrome Royal Rumble during Dr. Olzak’s psychology lecture in the winter of ’95.
“Yawn! Madonna fan? No damn way!” I counter while barely caring about Olzak’s ramblings on incentive theory.
Today I was emptying bookshelves and boxes, throwing out relics of previous incarnations including binders from college. So many biochemistry (miscellaneous science) exams, english papers, economics quizzes, and more that I never remember doing. I must have BSed my way through college because it seems like only the handwriting is mine– papers don’t even seem to speak in my voice. Ironically, I have both been a Madonna fan and smoked a cigar despite the warnings of the palindromes, perhaps speaking in another voice for longer than I’ve known. Or at least speaking in nine different conflicting voices.
“Do good? I? No! Evil
anon I deliver. I maim
nine more hero-men in
Saginaw, sanitary sword
atuck. Carol, I –
lo! -rack, cut a drowsy rat in Aswan. I
gas nine more hero-men
in Miami. Reviled,
I, Nona, live on…
I do, O God!”
Mike landed his body-slam from the top of the turn-buckle, pinning me beneath the weight of his lengthy reversible, if barely comprehensible poem. If hindsight spoke for the present moment, I’d have to say that my evil ego does live, indeed rage on …
“Some men interpret nine memos,” I sheepishly penned, admitting defeat. Don’t know how many memos they interpret, but they still haven’t learned their lesson… they still run in a dozen directions at once, even when they know they’ve been doing it for nine lives.