Eric Mayer

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Windows crashed on me last Monday. That's a daily occurrence. What was unusual, this time, was that it deleted all my Firefox bookmarks.

I poked around my hard drive until I found the week's backups, hidden in Russian doll fashion, deep inside a series of folders nested within folders. I restored the bookmarks from Sunday which lacked only a few stops from my internet wanderings, nothing serious, not a lost weekend by any means.

Seeing the bookmark files for each day lined up, reminded me of something the philosopher Alfred Korzybski wrote. He explained that we can fall into error by referring to others and ourselves by our names, because by doing so we forget that while the names remain the same, the human beings they purport to describe are altered by the passage of time. Better we should refer to, for example, Eric1959 and Eric2006, as a reminder that those two are in many ways quite different from each other. We change along our journey, like our browser bookmarks.

Could it be that all the people we've been and all the circumstances we've encountered, are stored in our minds, ready to be retrieved? Too often, rather than dealing with a situation or an individual we encounter today, as the person we are today, we seem instead reach for the backup and replay the reaction that the person we used to be had to a situation or individual in the past.

At least I seem to. As an adult I've reacted to something my parents said as if I were a child. When finishing a job or a writing project I've been engulfed by the identical terror that washed over me when my fourth grade teacher announced a long division pop quiz.

Is there some way to avoid these inappropriate reactions, or are they a bug in our brains, or in my brain? I'm sure I have no answer. My mind is an even bigger mystery to me than the software on my computer.

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