Meaningful pasts: Post #13

1. What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?

If I limit my thinking to the bubble that is my life, I can think of many objects. I am a bit of a pack-rat, so I have to be mindful of this so I don’t get buried under mounds of relics! But I hold on to old photos, albums; objects that represent victories or milestones (diplomas, trophies, medals, etc.). Since I’ve become a mother, holding onto ‘old’ things has become even more meaningful; locks from a first haircut, first tooth, articles of clothing that have long since been of use but have sentimental meaning. These are important to me because the remind me of specific periods in my life, and my daughter’s.

If I look at this question from a broader perspective (past my own little bubble), I can say without a doubt that I feel protective of relics or artefacts in general. I may have no personal tie to say, a 500-year-old mummy found in a block of ice in Katmandu, but what this relic means and what we stand to learn from it isn’t negligible and must be respected. So here again, what do I treasure? Any and all object, relic or monument that stands to teach us something – think of the roman forum and coliseum, the multitude of temples found all over Europe, the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall, etc. They all matter because they were erected for a purpose or reason. And those reasons still matter today, because they can teach us something.

2. Are some objects best forgotten?

I don’t think so. History is riddled with good stories, bad ones and ugly ones too, all equally important. If certain artefacts remind us of an ugly period in our history (I’m thinking of the Nazi movement, as an example), we cannot be allowed to push them out of our lives out of shame. In fact, we can’t afford to do this. The old adage that states that there is much to learn from history. This holds true, especially when it speaks about our lowest, darkest times. That is when we need to pay extra attention.

3. What intangible pasts are meaningful to you?

Languages, mostly. Arameic, Sumerian, to a little less ancient like Latin. I find the evolution of language interesting because it tells a lot about how languages today came to be the way they are, and how or why some languages became extinct.

4. How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?

Difficult question! Artefacts and relics can easily be showcased in museums, but how does one ensure the legacy of something you cannot touch, other than write about it? This is primarily how history has been passed on – writing about it and teaching it. It would be fantastic if there were more innovative ways to do this, but sadly, I can’t think of any.

5. If we save more objects and intangible pasts, is there a danger that there will be too much past in the future?

I find this question amusing. I don’t see how this is possible. I believe in innovation and moving forward but I also think it is important to keep the past close by to ensure we never forget important lessons. Besides, the way technology advances by leaps and bounds, we become progressively more able to collect and store massive amounts of information. There should always be room for objects and intangible pasts far into the future. Like I stated previously, we stand to learn much about the past, which will always be applicable to the future. So really, it’s not so much a question of whether or not we will have too much past in our future, but rather can we afford NOT to have the past in our future. We would do ourselves a great disservice if we were to let the past slide.

Female, 40s, public servant


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