Things should be lost and only sometimes found. We try too hard to preserve things for a posterity that should be left alone to discover for themselves what we knew, what we were and what they have become. It is sad when something of old beauty disappears and tragic when hard-won lessons are lost, but it might be sadder and more tragic still if they persist and crowd new beauty and lessons to be learned by another age.
We have a passion to preserve, or at least try to. We embrace change in theory but in practice try to hold onto everything, memorialize each moment. But things pass and when they are gone they cannot be persevered, perhaps only fossilized, a lifeless impression reminiscent of the vital living thing, but w/o any of its essence. The essence of vital life is change and the fossil preserved cannot do that.
Sometimes just let go, let that moment pass into obscurity, with maybe some lingering meaning to be discovered by an explorer or an antiquarian of a future generation, when it will be rediscovered and misinterpreted to fit their needs.
Things preserved are things dead. The world should belong to the living. My historian’s heart loves the past and knows that we can learn from the experience of others. Our ancestors left us a wonderful legacy and I count as MY ancestor every human who came before me whose legacy I touch: good, bad and indifferent. Events change but human nature abides. But with all due respect to what went before, the future is what matters. Knowing what came before should enable us, not hold us down. They are our ancestors but we have no responsibility for what they did.
I often feel most awe in lonely places. I recall coming on a big pile of rocks while hiking in Norway. It turns out that it was a Neolithic monument. Thousands of years ago, the local hunters and farmer just piled rocks. There was a marker, which is how I knew what it was, but it didn’t really have a good explanation. Maybe it was just that somebody started to do it and other just did it too. The tradition perhaps persists along hiking trails, where you find piles of rocks that people create as a type of fetish.
When I come on a sign of some great past event, I feel pensive but also connected. I feel connected, however fleetingly, to humans who like me strives, achieved, failed and overcame. I know that all I do will soon be like all they did. I take a moment to respect them and also myself. I try to take a lesson and then I move on.