I was listening to a podcast the other day and one of the hosts mentioned how young America is – that it’s hard to find a home more than a hundred years old. Comments like this make me cringe. Yes, we’re a young country if you’re looking at a European-controlled population. But if you’re looking at humanity living on this land, America is quite old.
One of our family’s places to go and just breathe is Moab, Utah. The red rocks, the hiking, the dry climate (especially in spring, when it’s still temperate), and the fact that it’s relatively “undiscovered” makes it one of my favorite places to visit. When we’re hiking, we’ve come across petroglyphs and pictographs from the Pueblo and Navajo tribes that populated the area. These etchings are a reminder that people have inhabited this country for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.
I love living in an area where such history is easily accessible. We’re looking forward to taking the girls to Mesa Verde and other spots where we can see the remnants of ancient civilizations. We want them to recognize our own history – not just of the European immigrants that form our own family, but of our land and region.
One of my favorite parts about living in Paris were the plaques put up around the city, creating a history lesson. Churches, apartments, cafes, random alleys and corners have these short paragraphs about what happened in that particular spot. It’s amazing to be reminded of all that happened in that place, over the span of centuries.
I think it can be easy to romanticize ancient cultures. To long for the “old days” when life was easier and simpler and, subsequently, to downplay our own current era. When we see these ruins and read the plaques, we are reminded that big things happened long ago. But small things happened, too. Small moments filled those day-to-day lives, just like ours. People worked and played, just like we do.
Frank and I were talking about when we would have wanted to live in the past. He often imagines life as a pioneer in the wild west. I reread the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and, now as a mom, can only see the transient lifestyle. The fact that there was often little or no community support. The harsh winters and the stress of living in undeveloped territories. No, thank you.
Because I have an appreciation for historical context, I am quite happy living in this era. Middle class America is luxurious, with our single family homes and running water. With so many choices and opportunities. I sometimes wonder if a love of history can lead to a longing of the past. But for me, my love of history gives me a greater appreciation for the life we’re living today.
What about you? Which era would you most like to live in? Are you nostalgic for older times or do you like today?
This post is Day 25 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.