“People tend to forget that the word ‘history’ contains the word ‘story.'”
- Ken Burns
The main living area of our house had its carpet removed this week, and with good reason.
For more than two decades, my family walked, ate, slept, talked, laughed and played over this carpet. Friends gathered on it, as did family. We met new people and renewed friendships with those we’ve known a long time.
When a previous owner of the house installed the carpet, they no doubt celebrated what it brought to them; it made them feel good. It was a source of pride.
But while it once provided comfort, it no longer supplied the same positive result. Time had altered it. While still essentially the same object, it was now worn, dirty and frayed. It no longer provided pride.
It was pried loose, rolled up and hauled away.
The carpet that supported many memories is no longer here, but…
The memories are. I’ll still remember my kids and friends just the same. The meaning of history isn’t in something we can hold or touch, but in the connections, emotions, hopes and fears. History’s importance is in the stories we tell.
Our experiences individually and collectively aren’t erased because the status of an object changes.
But change can impact the usefulness of those same things. While facts may hold permanence, meaning is fluid. What we revere can not only change over time, but it should; as we mature and gain understanding as a community, our ideals must also mature.
History won’t be forgotten. Let’s not let it be our destiny.