Till Death Do Us Part

Till death do us part.

An often parodied yet iconic line that came to fame at wedding ceremonies through The Book of Common Prayer dating back to the mid-1500s. Clearly its sentiment and versions of the line were used for centuries before – but print made it real and helped to spread its practice – printed books…an early form of social networking coupled with word of mouth…

Today – Sunday – we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary (I’m travelling…what else is new…) and counted our blessings of daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. Not a bad blessing at all!

Having said that we also commemorated the anniversaries of the deaths of two dear friends – one who died of natural causes, after his great, all-embracing heart gave out after rounds of terrible chemo, and one who was murdered when his great, all-embracing heart propelled him up the stairs of Tower Two on 9/11 to save his friends’ lives.

Till death do us part started to take on new meaning for me because over ten years later these two friends still influence and inspire my life and the lives of others as well – way beyond their immediate families.

Not to get too maudlin – but this got me thinking about today and the world we live in. Where the data trails we leave will in fact live forever – way beyond the lifespan of a marriage or the healthiest of elders…who get older and live longer every year. Our relatively short analog existence is no match for the data lifespan – or is it?

Think Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, the Great Sprit, Zeus, Odin – all alive in our minds and some of them in many people’s prayers. There was no Internet and data stream to track them – just stories and deeds – good and bad – yet live they do.

Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare – all spread through the most powerful of social networks – analog as it might have been.

And of course the Bible (in all its versions) and the Koran leave “data” trails that stretch back millennia….

As I pondered this I came across the notion of Japanese Temples being built of wood because the analog trappings around them are ephemeral but the divine spirit within (think digital) is eternal.

And there you have it – analog and digital – one dies; evaporates – the other lives on forever…whatever that might be… “I didn’t know the full dimensions of forever, but I knew it was longer than waiting for Christmas to come.” Richard Brautigan

I was reminded of the time I took my older daughter to France for her 16th birthday and we went to Pere Lachaise – the cemetery of Paris – to visit Jim Morrison’s grave – that is Jim Morrison of the Doors (my favorite group of all time). We got lost and an old man started yelling at us in French how could we so desecrate such a place by looking for a nobody when Voltaire and Moliere were buried right where we were standing….I guess Jim’s digital trail wasn’t long enough…

All of this resonates as we look at data storage issues, privacy, ownership of data – for sure but what intrigues me is the notion of immortality created simply because there is a digital record vs. the immortality created by deed and action – good and bad.

There are new services – for example, 4SquareAnd7yearsago – that were created expressly to help people track their historical data trail and aggregate any date you really wanted to remember.

In other words, if you wanted to relive last September 26, it would aggregate all your tweets and posts and sign-ins and whatevers so you could remember that you got your shoes wet in the rain or had a bad piece of sushi.

OK – I am being a bit facetious – but I hope you see my point – do we really create a better immortality of remembering someone or something of influence because we now have a digital trail? Will that become a surrogate for the myth building that has kept stories alive since the dawn of time? Are we shortchanging ourselves and our memories by linking them to Twitter?

As I think of my 33 years and I look at my photos – analog and digital – I am grateful that so much of what makes me smile is mine alone – and as I think of my two dear friends, I am comforted that I have my own memories to share and store.

I guess the bottom line is that the digital shelf does not guarantee immortality – for that you need people who love you for who you are and what you achieved.

I was inspired by my own musings (hope you don’t mind) but also by the following and its source…Listen:

“In a world where everything is remembered and everything is kept forever, you need to live for the future and things you really care about.” Eric Schmidt

So as we all tweet and post and blog and upload and overload today – think about what it and you and I look like way after our analog gigs are up.

Till death do us part…

What’s your view?

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