Monday, December 27, 2010

Touching Things Past*

The following was originally posted on February 8, 2010. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series:

I'm a little bit of a history geek. I was a history major in college, and I really enjoy historical fiction, historical films and other things along those lines. I love to dive into some other time or place in the world and try to get a handle on what was going on then and there, what people might have thought and felt way back when about one another and their lives and their place in the world. There's something about knowing what has gone before that feels deeply important to me.

Thinking about it recently, I know that there are two sides to my interest in the past--one is intellectual and the other is more personal/emotional. I do have the desire to really know this world--in a sweeping, epic, global sense, where I begin to understand the cause-effect relationships that have led us toward the wonderful and vicious, beautiful and horrible experiences we collectively face day to day, now.

Within that massive base of knowledge, there are individuals. I think about my grandmothers, and the disparate lives they led that somehow, miraculously came together to create me. One of them lived through the majority of the 20th century in America, and while I knew her as a teenager, I never got to know her as an adult, when I could have really asked the questions I now want to, about her life and the things she personally witnessed within the history that I know so well in terms of dates, facts and situations. My other grandmother lived her whole life in West Africa, a place that I am connected to, but know less intimately. There's a wisdom there that is somewhat outside my grasp, but I long for a taste of it.

So, I read lots of books, and look at lots of pictures, and try to imagine what I can about these women, and the many like them whose lives and work set the stage for my own world. I feel that I'm still looking for the truth of those experiences, and I don't know if we today can ever really touch it, but it's nice to believe we might be able to come close.

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