i, epigram
write wide, write deep

a blog of one's own

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

A Meeting with History

This history geek is delirious with geeky happiness. I get to spend my day walking through the streets of Athens, drinking coffee while looking at the ruins and being serenaded by a street violinist. How amazing is that? 

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I'm sitting in this historical city, sipping my coffee, and thought of the history. So much has happened in this city. People lived, loved, conquered, lost, defeated. The walls of the city, both the ruins and the modern, have seen generations come and go. Empires rise and fall.

History is bound to repeat itself. Or so I'm told.

We often don't like to talk about the past. There's so much... baggage. I saw "Hacksaw Ridge" on the plane coming to Athens. (I saw "Trolls" too, but that's not relevant.) That movie got me thinking about history textbooks. What makes it into these books? There has been times when entire nations have played the denial game and simply refused to take responsibility for some of the atrocities that they have committed. If it's not published, it's not real, right?

But if we don't own up to our past mistakes, we'll eventually repeat it and think it's OK. Therein lies our problem. We can't run from our past. It'll always catch up to us and then swallow us whole, dissolving our humanity and leaving us with monsters in our place.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana said that. What happens when we stop running from the past, turn around, and face it? I'm not encouraging anyone to greet it like a long lost friend. I'm just saying that maybe, just maybe, we can acknowledge that the past existed. We've done things, said things, thought things in error. What happens when we face the consequences, the guilt, the constant reminder of our less-than-perfect nature and then choose to forgive ourselves?

We can’t run from our past. It’ll always catch up to us and then swallow us whole, dissolving our humanity and leaving us with monsters in our place.

Are we still talking about history? Well... Yes and no. I'm also talking about our personal pasts. This is one of the things I love about learning about history and psychology. The areas of study both encourage me to look back and accept, acknowledge, and then move on - always trying to become better. A speaker I once listened to mentioned that life is like a motorcycle ride (or a car ride, whatever your ride-or-die preference is), and if we spent most of the time looking at the rearview mirror, we will miss what's ahead and get in trouble. He's right. But whoever said this is right as well: "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." Our past help make us who we are today - the good and the bad. Better start acknowledging that. And let's be honest, I'm really talking to myself here.

Here's hoping that wherever you are in your journey that you take a little time to learn from your history and live better.

[Love always, T.]