In the secular world, you hear about “holiday blues.” You know, when the big holidays come around, people have so many expectations that they are bound to be disappointed. And what’s more, they are sure that everyone else is having a great time, while they are missing the boat. They are alone – or worse, they’re with people they don’t connect to, that don’t understand them or relate to them.
For me, I face the High Holidays in this way. Everyone’s excited about the New Year. They’re glad to connect – to themselves, to other people, to their prayers, to God. They’re anxious about judgment, perhaps, but after Yom Kippur, they breathe a big sigh of relief. Forgiven! They’re forgiven, and they’re ready to move on, to face a new year with new challenges and opportunities.
But not me. I face these days with dread. Because I’m an addict. When I was using, I crossed every line, putting all my morals to the side and then quieting my conscience with more using. I was in a fog so thick I couldn’t even see my nose, let alone see past it. I made mistakes I can never live down. I hurt people in ways that I can never make up for.
So for me, Yom Kippur is one big day of depression. And I didn’t expect this year to be any different.
I manage my company’s Google account. We were getting close to the maximum number of users, so a few weeks ago I went to my boss and together we picked out people who no longer work for us. Of course, I didn’t just delete their accounts, I sent each of them an email telling them that they should remove whatever data they needed, and let me know if they need more time. A few people emailed me back, and I was happy to give them another week or two to transfer their data. Some never responded, and I understood that their account was not needed, so I deleted it.
A few days passed, and someone I didn’t recognize approached me, asking why I deleted her user account. It seems she had emailed me back and I never got the email. Her user account was very much… in use.
I tried to restore her data, but after five days, Google has no way of restoring deleted users. It seems she doesn’t take the protective measures I do – I keep another copy of everything important, so that I can always go back to the things that are still relevant. Her data is lost forever.
Now, I know that there is no such thing as irrevocably “lost data.” If, say, the FBI wanted to investigate this individual, they would surely have no problem in unearthing these missing files. But Google doesn’t have a system for doing so.
And for the first time, I felt a ray of hope.
No, I can’t erase my past. I can’t undo all the hurtful, shameful things I’ve done to myself and others. There is no true, permanent delete. But after a grace period, if I’ve really detached myself from the “user” I once was, those files are no longer relevant. No one ever needs to look at them again. If, one day, I need to look something over again, it’s stored right there on my hard drive in the copy I made sure to keep. It shouldn’t be difficult to find, because I don’t keep all the trash, the hundreds and thousands of meaningless missives that clog cyberspace. I just keep the important stuff, the stuff I may need to look at again one day, perhaps with a different, more mature pair of glasses.
I’m really sorry for my coworker, who now has to reconstruct years of work. But I’m happy for me.
My account is finally clean.