Monday, November 19, 2012

Random Thought - What We Don't Leave Behind

I've been listening to recorded oral histories on the Sound and Story website (thanks to Gayle Livecchia for pointing that one out). It's like StoryCorps but just for the Hudson Valley in New York. It's fascinating to listen to people tell their personal stories or to describe how things were done in the past.

Sometimes we get thinking about what wasn't recorded, what wasn't explained and left behind.  Last week I recorded an interview with Kathleen Wall, Foodways Culinarian at Plimoth Plantation. As I asked her questions sometimes she would respond "They just didn't write it down." Some things are lost because they are perhaps too mundane to mention.

Imagine this. You take the time to write down an entire day of your life. In infinite detail you jot down everything you do and perhaps think. But all the same you will leave out details.  It will be incomplete. The people of the future will again say "they didn't write that down."  You will have tried so hard yet to no avail. Some things are so mundane that you don't even realize you are leaving them out.

Such is the way of history.

The exercise is good though. Try to leave the details behind. Even if you can't anticipate the questions of the future you will do a great service by providing them with a great deal of information.

There's no way for us to know what will be forgotten with the past.


  1. Agreed! We can't capture all of anyone's life, present or past. Our minds and hearts are "infinite in faculties," to quote good ol' Hamlet. If we simply write down what matters most to us--that will tell our descendants who we are.

  2. Interesting thoughts. Do you think our descendants will ever REALLY know us by what we leave behind? Compare that to what we THINK we know about our ancestors...