Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blog as sand mandala

Friday night offered this troubling lesson in impermanence:
A stark white page, blank save for the message in bold black letters, "Forbidden: You don’t have access to [such and such a file] on this server," greeted me and anyone else trying to call up my blog.
From about 8 till 11 p.m. Eastern time, I just about wet my pants. I’m talking one constant stream.

I had been experimenting with uploading a post with a sound file at the exact moment the outage began. My first thought was, "Great, I blew up Blogger."
In a panic I phoned my eldest sister. "Please do me a big favor," I pleaded. "See if you can access my blog."
She couldn’t. She was getting the same error message as I.
I was heartened that I could still log on to my account and access all of my posts (though only in draft form). But every time I tried to view my blog, I got the same error page.

Frantic, I dashed off a letter to Blogger tech support explaining my plight. I envisioned getting a humongous bill from them for the damage I had caused.
Meanwhile, I must’ve tried 10,000 times to access my blog online, logging on and off between tries.
After about a half-hour, I got an automated response from Blogger advising me to check the Blogger Status page to see if there were any technical difficulties causing my problem. Sure enough, at the top of the page were a few freshly written paragraphs explaining that a server was malfunctioning and that this was affecting "a percentage of blogs." Evidently, mine was among them. But I was still unsure what was going on.

Realizing that there was nothing more I could do, I went grocery shopping. All the while, I was wondering what the possible loss of my blog would mean to me. I had visions of my blog becoming a sand mandala against my will -- something that is created just to be destroyed. I certainly wasn’t ready to let go just yet to a month and a half of hard work, earnest thoughts and shared experiences.

I panicked that I would never be able to re-create the stream of consciousness that had become my blog.
And then a voice inside my head gloated, "Serves you right for forming attachments and for believing in permanence."

Once I got home from shopping, I tried to access my blog. To my infinite relief, it worked, though things aren’t completely back to normal. Several drafts of this post disappeared when I tried to publish them. And I can’t upload photos, or create new posts if it involves republishing my entire blog.

(And now, adding to this post at 7 p.m. Saturday, I’m right back where I started -- no blog to view online, but still able (so far) to access individual posts in draft form. Friends say they, too, can’t access their blogs, so this evidently is a widespread problem. This morning I made a printout of my entire blog -- about 175 pages -- so my fears of losing all my work have been allayed, though I would hate to lose people’s comments on my posts.)

So, blogging has been removed from my routine, albeit (hopefully) temporarily. Adding to my ill humor is a bad backache, which kept me out of the gym Thursday and out of the karate dojo Friday and today. Three of the most meaningful and important things in my life have been removed from my reach, at least for now.

This experience brings up some disturbing questions.
How willing am I to let go of material things, spiritual things?
How much do I realize to the very marrow of my bones that anything and everything I have, from my book collection to my livelihood to my health to my very life, can be taken from me at any time, and without warning?
What would I do if, indeed, I lost everything I own? Or if I lost my physical abilities?

I’m not sure I want to know the answers to these questions.


LBseahag said...

great point...

The only thing that keeps me sane anymore is blogging!!!

Michael said...

Hi LB,

Yes, I didn't realize how much I missed it till it was nearly gone...

Green said...

I feel the same way.
It's good that it has come back.

Michael said...

Hi Greensleeves,

Yes, I'm relieved ...

Beth said...

michael: you said it well. i thought that my hundreds of posts, haiku, and comments discussion might be gone. it was an awful thought. i wasn't ready to have them vanish (even the possiblility of having them vanish). so much of me is wrapped up in them. and then the experience of blogging and reading means so much to me. i was very happy this morning to have it all back. but very aware of the attachment as well.

Michael said...

Hi Kim,

You summed it up perfectly. It once was (almost) lost but now is (mostly) found ...

g said...

a server was malfunctioning and that this was affecting “a percentage of blogs.”

Ha! I guess you could say that this was true, even if the percentage was actually one hundred.

What timing. I can imagine your distress at believing your own activities had caused the problem.

Losing everything. Isn't that the Great Test for all of us?

Michael said...

Hello g,

"Losing everything. Isn't that the Great Test for all of us?"

Indeed. It's a test I'm not sure I'd pass.