Everyone Has A Past

Though there is so much we cannot share. We read history and within a few hundred pages are fifty, sixty, seventy or more years. How long is the read? A week? How can our minds live so many years in so few days and understand each and every hour others spent living. The thoughts, the wasted time, the eating, the running, the learning and the working?

History has more facets than human character.  Can we see the skin tremble in a soldier, smell the salt in the hair of the sailors, feel bullets rip through our friends, conceive of the unbearable indignity of slavery, do we understand betrayal because we can read about it? And in all the charts we steer through past events we know what happened, we know how it turned out, we are not living it forward, nor for the first time, our perceptions are not those of the unknowing, unsure or untested.

Even our own pasts have huge gaps, that’s the way memory works. We can reconstruct events from what we do recall and what we know never happened, but we can reconstruct them in real time. We can even make things up and believe they happened.

But we can never know what it was like to be young before we were young, to be old before we were born, to die before we ever saw the night sky or were touched by the sunshine.

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May 2011
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