Perspective · The Next Half Century

Relative Strangers

I look into the eyes of my ancestors staring back at me from old black and white photos taken long ago. Many of these ancestors are like strangers to me; only names of my great grandparents, great aunts and uncles or distant cousins. It makes me wonder what they would tell me today about this pandemic based on the uncertain times they lived through.

There is little to none recorded history about the lives of many of my ancestors — the trials they faced, their thoughts, experiences or emotions — only a few anecdotal stories. I wish now they had recorded at least some things about their life, especially what it was like to endure such major uncertainty like World War I, the Great Depression, or even the Spanish Flu pandemic. A part of me thinks they, like us now, were so caught up in the urgency of the present it was hard to stop and reflect; hard to stop to record experiences and emotions for future generations.

It is often the hardships, the traumatic things in life that shape us the most. Logging our emotional journey through this current pandemic could be a great benefit now and for future generations. Recording uneasy feelings and daily struggles to cope casts a very human side to our current upended life with its new normal.

Today we have so many tools available to record our experiences, enabling us to create a multimedia cornucopia of this period in history. Whether it’s a short video or thoughts scrawled in a notebook, take some time during the coming weeks and months to capture your reflections on what you are experiencing during this incredible crisis. As you do this, consider how to best preserve this valuable piece of history. Whether you’re recording on a laptop, phone or in the cloud, make a backup copy to keep in your home for safe keeping. Even if it’s only a spiral-bound notebook you write in, scan a backup copy for your archives.

By recording your experience you may offer some reassurance, some guidance, for whatever calamity future generations may face. It will also help you avoid becoming a relative stranger in the future.

© 2020 CGThelen

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