Claire J. Harris

About Claire J. Harris

Claire Harris is a writer in exile who has spent the last decade travelling and working around the world. This is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds and usually involves scraping by on a diet of muesli and cheap wine. Occasionally together. You can find her at www.clairejharris.com

My life needs an undo button – let me explain

I’m perpetually looking backwards and crippled by nostalgia, but I feel a universal undo function would fix everything. 

 

 

You know you spend too much time on a computer when you start wishing you could use its functions in real life. The other day, I knocked a jar of rice onto my tiled kitchen floor — shattering glass and grains across most of my apartment (open plan designs have their drawbacks…)

In my head, I found myself hitting Ctrl-Z to undo this and restore the jar to its whole state and correct position on the bench. I did this without thinking, but it’s not the first time it’s come to mind. It was just the first time that I realised I do this quite a lot. Clearly, I need to close my laptop and get outside more.

I told my partner about this and he jokingly (I think!) asked if I was trying to erase him from my life. “I’m not pressing Alt-Ctrl-Del,” I protested but he said that if I went back far enough undoing things I’ve done, then I would eventually get to the part of my life when we met and I could undo that too.

Which made me think about how I’m always looking backwards — yearning with nostalgia for parts of my life that have ended, filled up with regrets, and wondering about what could have been.

The passage of time makes me unbearably sad a lot of the time — I feel a constant sense of missing everything that has already happened and will never ever happen again, even if I didn’t particularly enjoy it happening the first time.

 

Which made me think about how I’m always looking backwards — yearning with nostalgia for parts of my life that have ended, filled up with regrets, and wondering about what could have been.

 

But my partner doesn’t want a Ctrl-Z button — he wants to go faster, not backwards. I was reminded of this when Netflix ran tests on its playback speed this week, it drew the anger of filmmakers around the world. They demanded to know who would want to watch a movie on 1.5x speed anyway?

My partner would. He consumes podcasts and videos so quickly that I can’t understand what they are talking about. Sometimes when I come into the room, it takes me a second to realise that what he is listening to is even in English, because my brain can’t keep up. Because English is his second language, this is particularly impressive — but is it good for you?

He’s actually downloaded apps to increase the playback speed, because the current capabilities aren’t fast enough. Your brain quickly adjusts to listening to things at double speed, he says, so you need to keep pushing it higher.

I do not really understand this. To me, life is moving so damn fast I want to slow everything down. Hit undo and then get to do it again. But my partner tells me that in real life, he finds himself wishing he could speed things up to double time, the way he can with his podcasts.

I guess that is a fundamental difference between us — he’s rushing towards the end of something while I spend a lot of time staring out the window and wishing I could go back.

Meanwhile, neither one of us is doing what we really should — which is just savouring the moment that we have. Remembering that one day, I’ll look back at this and miss it too.

 

 

 

 

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