Part I: The Century: Boom to Bust.
As I stagger into my Friday morning, my sleepy mind tries to begin a game of Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda.
Fortunately, the smarter me wakes up in time to put a stop to such nonsense. Focusing on the past and the choices I did or not not make is the easiest way to punish myself. No, this morning, in between a bowl of cereal and a cup of hot creamed coffee, I make the decision to start again. Over thinking life often gets in the way of living it. I try not thinking but am not successful.
The rest of the day I long to write so that I can sort out the bits and pieces that just don’t make sense. Random sentences appear here and there in the margins of the notebooks full of high school history and animal science. My words mingle with the notes. History is all too real. The weight of regret tries to press down on my shoulders. I push it aside and think again of history.
If only these history classes could do history justice. Life is always much more complicated than it seems. Certainly more complicated than it reads. The textbooks make heroes out of flawed and complicated human beings who often weren’t heroes at all. History seems extremely biased. It’s perspective limited and narrow. Textbooks try to mold young American citizens. So many don’t pay attention. What is the point?
They say, “I don’t see how this can ever be important to me in my life.”
They don’t know that every minute history is happening all around them. They don’t know how hard it is to make sense of it all. They know nothing of how history repeats itself. They will be doomed to repeat it. They will be too easily led or worse yet as apathetic as they are in this moment of time when nothing has relevance. They are ships without anchors but then again so am I.
At some point in time, in my history, in my not too distant past, I made a choice. I chose to question. Cutting free of the anchor, I drift looking for relevance, for patterns, for connections. My history is connection. Sacrificing parts of myself for these connections, I doubt myself with a sharp, painful awareness on an ordinary Friday morning.
Making connections is not easy. The threads I use to link people, time and ideas don’t always hold everything together. I know too much and too little all at once. Everything changes and everything stays the same. People disappoint. Some times they redeem themselves but their history, their past behavior, their choices, their actions will speak as a testament to who they really are or were. Even this knowing is difficult. Isn’t every one more than the sum of their actions, their thoughts, their behavior? What do I make of it all? When do their limits become my own?
Morning draws to a close. In a darkened classroom, a film on the 20th century plays. It all looks so neat and simple. History has a musical background. It plays upon my emotions and I am led to feel what the film maker wants me to feel. In old film clips, overly animated people flit and jerk across the scene, so full of life. If any of them remain alive now, they are very old. They never moved the way the film show them moving. It was the fault of the camera, the technology and the time.
It is the best we have. It is often the best we can do to assemble the bits and pieces and try to make sense of it all. We will always miss the mark. There are always other sides not reported, other views, other perspectives. We, fallible human beings do what we can with what we’ve been given. Relevance. Nothing seems more relevant, more vital, more important than understanding how I got to this moment of time and all that lies beneath. This is history unfolding. I am in the thick of it.