Sunday, 16 January 2011

Living In The Past

How many minutes, how many hours, how many days are spent analyzing what we've done? How long will we allow ourselves to continue to live in the past and not move forward? ...

I am trained as a historian, but that was an accident. Whenever asked about facts or timelines or even to describe eras, my mind turns into a black void vacumn of nothingness. These things don't interest me. People interest me. Stories interest me. Studying people from the past is what interests me. My own story just happens to be one of my favourites.

The stories of the past kept me in history, university taught me how to analyze those stories.

Like most sciences, history searches for a greater truth, as did I. I see it as this large thick line, running throughout time. It is only inside that line that we will know what it means to be human, why we are here and what the meaning of life might be. Surrounding that line are documents to read, objects to scrutinize and people to interview. These are our primary sources. As we move further away from the line, we find articles, books, and other opinion pieces scholars have written about those documents, objects and people they interviewed. These are the secondary sources that we must consult first, during and even after viewing the primary sources. Even further from that line, are thoughts we have come across in our lifetime that have provided us with a non-academic understanding of the line. These thoughts may have come from our personal experiences in living the line, outside readings we have done on life, and especially our own cultural understandings of the world. These thoughts greatly affect our ability to see that line... and then, when we look at ourselves - I suppose this would be the furthest from that line - we are surrounded by a bubble of our own thoughts, feelings and understandings of the world that affect how we see anything inside or out of that bubble. Actually knowing what that line looks like - discovering the "truth" in anything - therefore becomes next to impossible.

If you do not have the same understanding of truth than this, I will find it difficult to have a stimulating, intellectual conversation with you without completing shutting down and refusing to discuss the world with an idiot. I apologize if that opinion offends you, but it comes from my bubble and not my heart. I'm sure you're a very splendid individual, we just should never discuss the discovery of a historical "truth."

Now that I've explained all that, I pose a question that we can discuss. If I am attracted most to those stories - to that line that we are so far removed from - why would I even begin to try to come close to understanding my own?

One of the professors of our program was extremely melancholic. Often he would be seen wandering the halls of the floors we lived on for those eight months as he was trying to solve some unanswerable question he had about the line. He was the first real life example I have of a truly insane genius (and possibly one of the reasons I ran - and continue to run - from the academic world). "If there is no truth, than why do we even bother?" was a sentiment he muttered on his most troubled days.

Why? Why do we even bother?

Because we may never know the real line, but getting just a glimpse makes our life more worthwhile.

Because the story sounds so good, we want to know as many details as we can.

Because life is about the journey - the pursuit of truth - rather than the destination - the realization of truth.

And so, as I continue on my journey...

"Ever upstream from myself; I advance, implore and pursue myself."
~ Edmond Vandercammen

... I will continue to live in the past, pursuing myself, understanding my story.

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