The image is something I drew on the cover page of my journal I wrote while hitch-hiking around the country back in 1987. It captures the essence of the human condition. We are made of “dust” – all that we do and all that we are is destined to crumble to nothing. But on the other hand, being trapped forever in our current condition would be quite hellish. So we are dancing on the razor’s edge between existence and the abyss. Not a bad place to be when you think about it. Indeed, it seems to be the only place we could be!
The impermanence of life became quite vivid recently. This site has been online since February 11, 2001. I’ve put countless hours into it, first as a convinced Bible believing Christian, then as a skeptical mystic, and finally as an atheist. It records my changes and the reasons for them, the questions I struggled with, and the many answers my fine friends have contributed along the way. Then on February 17, 2017 the server hosting this site crashed. The company which had been hosting it for the last sixteen years was not been able to provide any backups, claiming they all had mysteriously become corrupted through some mechanical failure. It seems more likely that they simply failed to configure the backups correctly. In any case, I had, fortunately, made my own backup a couple years ago and so have been able to recover about 80% of the posts (62,624) spanning the time from when the forum opened in June 7, 2007 to October 25, 2014.
This experience really brings home the fact that nothing is permanent. Our lives and our work are like footprints in the sand, destined to be washed away by wind and rain no matter what we do. On the upside, it also means that things we wish were not on the internet are also destined to pass. The new “old adage” that “once on the internet, always on the internet” is not really true. There are literally thousands of posts that were published on my site for many years that already have vanished because Google and Bing clear their cache frequently. I was hoping I could automate a Google search to find the old posts and reinsert them in my database, but they simply don’t exist anywhere any more as far as I can tell.
It’s not the same with this blog though. As it turns out, the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive) took snapshots of all my blog articles, so I will be able to retrieve them and their comment streams. I don’t know why they do this for WordPress blogs but not vBulletin forums.
I look forward to continuing our many conversations. Here’s the link to the forum.