Heartbreak and The IKEA Effect

Last night, Mike told me I should drive to Utah and write a book (I think he’s trying to get me out of the garage). I concurred.

Seeking inspiration, I went to my computer to pull up a collection of short stories that I wrote several years ago while riding my dirtbike around Australia. Everything I write gets saved in a Word document that I upload to Dropbox, where it is preserved for all of eternity.

But my stories weren’t in the Dropbox folder where I had left them. I opened every folder on my hard drive and my backup drive. I scoured through 3 years of event logs in my Dropbox account. With each empty search result, I grew more frantic. I must have accidentally deleted the files at some point. I delete everything because I’m obsessive about removing clutter from my disk drives. Maybe I forgot to back them up altogether. Maybe I left my only copy on the computer I threw away in Sydney.

In any case, they were gone. Despite the fact that I hadn’t looked at those stories in years, I was devastated.

I stayed up the rest of the night trying to recall what I wrote so long ago, but nothing came back. There was something magic in the water down there, and I’ll never have the same inspiration again. Or maybe the stories were so amazingly brilliant that I only had one shot at capturing them, and I lost it.

Rationally, I know that they probably weren’t even very good. Were a book of Elaine’s Short Stories on a shelf at the public library, I wouldn’t have looked twice. We just get particularly attached to the things that we create.

I attribute it to parental instincts. Parents have to be unwilling to part with children of their own creation, even the really ugly ones, or else we would see offspring for sale all over craigslist.

So maybe I do have maternal instincts after all. It’s why I can’t sell my dirtbike, it’s why I’m the only one who can stomach my own cooking, it’s why I still love my stupid videos.

But my stories are gone forever and I remain heartbroken. Years after my childhood cat died, I would still run into the backyard and swear that I saw the tip of his striped tail move through the bushes. I only hope that, through the course of time, fleeting glimpses of my lost stories may also someday come back to me.

The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Lovehbr


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