Growing up, like most kids, history never excited me. Maybe it was the way it was taught, maybe I wasn’t old enough to understand the importance. Either way, it wasn’t until I had more life experience under my belt that it began to fascinate me.
Beyond the big events though, I often wonder about the individual stories of the people that have come before me in the places I find myself. I can’t help but wonder about the lives behind the names and dates on gravestones in cemeteries. What stories are untold or forgotten for the child buried there who only lived a year or the grandmother who saw 100 of them?
When visiting historic sites, my imagination takes hold as I think upon the drama that unfolded there. We know the end result but the people living through those times didn’t. They didn’t know how their story would play out. There was no certainty for them as there is for us looking back. And we all know about the major players in the events of these places but I also consider the people who didn’t make the history books. I find it irresistible not to take the time to imagine the sights, sounds, and smells of the time… what it must have been like to be there.
This is one of the reasons I value my travels so much. To be able to experience history in such a variety of places and from different perspectives is a treasure to me. But I also value my travels for my own stories and history as well as the people I travel with and meet along the way. The stories being played out in front of me are equally compelling. These are the stories that are happening while history is being made around us. Few of us will ever end up in the history books but our stories are no less important to share and remember because our stories are all part of the larger human story.
History never looks like history when you are living through it. ~John W. Gardner