It harbors beauty
“History should be studied because it is essential to society, and because it harbors beauty.” – Peter N. Stearns
Leaving aside for a moment the arguments that might arise from Stearns’ assertion that history is essential to society (I’m one who agrees that it is), I think most everyone will admit that history indeed harbors great beauty. Cynics might point out that it also contains vast areas of ugliness, perhaps far more pervasive than the beauty, at least in some eras. But is loveliness not more remarkable and arresting when it springs up amid great squalor?
The word “history” often conjures up a high school image of the topic, fraught with memorized dates and wars and disasters and genocide. But there is so much more to it, tucked away in between the markers on whatever timeline we happen to be studying. We are fortunate that the internet makes so many documents accessible to us. It’s a gold mine of diaries, letters, speeches and photographs that reveal details as rich, complex and countless as would be expected of the composite story of millions of unique individuals unfolding over hundreds and thousands of years.
If you seek beauty and inspiration in history, you will not have to look far. Along the way, you are also likely to discover humor and intrigue. You can begin at Storycorps, or at literally thousands of other websites and blogs filled with fascinating glimpses into lives from almost any era. Are there any time periods to which you are especially drawn?
It isn’t only global history that harbors beauty. Your own history also contains a labyrinth of remembered and forgotten moments of joy, wisdom and delight. Have you visited your own past lately? If not, perhaps you may find it fun or therapeutic to set aside a short time– perhaps 30 minutes or even less– to sort through old photos, read saved correspondence, or just daydream about a very pleasant or memorable stop on your journey through life. Feel free to share a special memory here.