It's a fairly large number. So to speak. Everything is relative. Consider: there are nearly eight billion humans on Planet Earth. Few people can comprehend such a vast number. Having a strong interest in astronomy, I happen to have a reasonably good grasp on the concept of billions. But I digress.

Sixty thousand what, exactly? Sixty thousand images and videos that define a significant portion of my life. Recently I was inspired to sift through some of my modeling photos in search of something—what I can't recall—and soon found myself on a steep descent into a rabbit hole of my own making that I was ill-equipped to handle. Begun when I was seven, my modeling career ended suddenly and unexpectedly sixty years later after I moved out of my precious woodland home. A number of unfortunate events occurred almost simultaneously that doomed my long-lived hobby. And so, to go poking around in my seemingly bottomless archive of images, videos and other documents—roughly 40,000 of them—was to invite the onset of a depressing reverie.

After I forced myself back out of that bittersweet nostalgic trip, I decided it was time to cut the cord, and allow my modeling life to expire in totality. The enormous archive of materials no longer provided me with anything positive: it had become a painful reminder of what once was, and what will never be again. Besides, much of my modeling life is documented online, and I'm not about to take the site down. I still receive messages from modelers grateful for that resource.

And so I clicked on the master Modeling folder and hit Delete. I took some comfort: it wasn't actually being deleted; it was simply being moved into the recycling bin, so if for any reason I should want to access something it contained, I would be able to recover it.

And then the following message popped up: "The Modeling folder is too large for the Recycle Bin. Would you like to permanently delete it instead?"

I sat staring at that message for a few moments, uncertain if this was indeed the action I wished to take. And then... after heaving a sigh... I clicked Yes.

It took roughly ten seconds for Windows to comply. Ten seconds to eradicate sixty years of my life in an absolutely wonderful hobby. And that was that.

It brought me back to my nervous breakdown in 2000, when I did a massive purge: I destroyed thousands of slides, videotapes and pieces of original art. It was a way, I determined, to commit suicide without actually taking my life; I would instead erase all that defined me as a person from the face of the earth. I would no longer exist—as I was. I would begin a new life path.

All of these thoughts circled me around to another archive, one containing twenty thousand images and videos of my woodland property. I found my finger nervously hovering over the Delete button for the main file folder. Why was this so difficult? I'd get the same pangs of anxiety whenever I'd roam through those reminders. And again, there's a sizeable website that preserves the highlights of that all-too-brief period in my life. So it's not as if I'd be destroying absolutely everything. But I confess I've not yet been able to bring myself to follow through; I'd actually begin to sweat whenever that dialog box appeared.

Someday, one of two things will happen: I'll finally delete it, very much aware of the conflicted satisfaction it would bring. Or, I'll die. The net result will be the same: it will all silently fade into nothingness.

Return to Random Thoughts | Grump Central