Note – the inspiration of this piece is a song, as it is in so much of my writing. I wanted to do 300 words on the images that song raised. I don’t think I succeeded in telling this as a STORY, not in the way I should, but nor do I hate what I came up with in that hour of writing…
A Hundred Years Ago
Who the hell am I to judge those who have come before? Who the hell am I to judge those who lived lives so different, in times more alien than any far planet?
A picture it was that drove me. A picture, and discussions about the triumphs and failures of a man who has been nothing more to me than a handful of stories told by relatives already old and fading to my far-younger eyes. The picture of a man who has never been real to me.
Now, his ghost is whispering in the background. He is speaking and trying to teach, but I have to strain to hear.
I carry the burdens of his sins. We all carry those burdens, the ones from our ancestors. The burden of their debts in the economy, in the environment, in our society. But I — we — carry also their victories, and their hard-won wisdom.
The picture I’ve been looking at is simple. There is one of me, in much the same pose. That similarity may have been nothing more than happenstance, but it changed me. A hundred years ago, in a time so different, among people so different, across a gulf of far more than just years, our faces look the same. Our bodies look the same. What else is the same?
There he stood, his newborn child in his arms. He was trying to look stern, I think, trying to be the epitome of the distant, uncaring father…but you can see it in his eyes, the love. You can see just how much that tiny child changed the world for him.
I look down, even as I write this, as I try to calm the squirming and squiggling, and I can’t help but think, “Just like me.”
P.S. — I never did find that one special picture to accompany this that I was looking for…