Last Saturday, I went crazy. Lost my mind. Completely freaked out. Screamed. Why? Because of my external hard drive. As always, I mounted it to my MacBook, waiting for the icon to pop up. This time it didn’t. After several port changes, several restarts of my computer, and 20 or so minutes of extreme worry, I learned a driver had been corrupted and the only way to fix it is to wipe the hard drive clean and start over. You know “The Scream,” that crazy painting by Munch? That was me.
You’re probably wondering why that would cause someone to completely freak out or scream. It’s because on that external hard drive are 17 years worth of pictures. Yes, the photos on that hard drive go all the way back to 2002. Luckily, I was able to retrieve all 564,312 (yes, a little more than half a million) pictures and successfully transfer them onto a new external hard drive.
I cannot imagine losing my entire 17-year photo library. During those 20 or so minutes, that’s all I kept thinking about. I kept thinking about how I should definitely have more than one copy of this hard drive and about all the pictures that I could never take again. My pets I had when I was a child. My grandfather. My uncle. High school friendships. Places I’ve been to and probably never will go to again. Buildings that have been torn down. Life.
It was sad to think that these could have all been lost forever. But what makes us so emotionally attached to pictures? The memory it holds. One of my favorite quotes about photography is, “We take photos to return to a moment otherwise gone.” I can look at a picture from Christmas Day 2003 and be instantly transported back to the day. I can remember the joy I experienced. The memories I made. That picture is my return ticket. That picture is my time machine.
Next time you look at a picture—whether it’s an old family picture, a nature picture, or just a random picture you took—think about where it transports you and take a moment to reminisce about that time. No matter how far back the picture goes, I will always remember that specific moment. Our brain is wired like that. Have you ever been somewhere and smelled something that instantly brought you back to a specific time or place? Pictures do the same. As we get older, our minds tend to forget and precise details of events can become fuzzy. Pictures can help us from forgetting all those details.