Have you ever had the privilege of experiencing “breaking up housekeeping” as Grandma puts it? This is when you go through every little thing someone has it, distributing it as appropriate. In this current society, this is usually done when a person dies, at which point things are tossed about with more concern for the momentary necessities pressing on the time you have available for such a daunting task. It’s probably because I was primarily raised by what I like to call “Depressionists” (people who survived the First American Great Depression) that I have a unique perspective on the hoards of other people, but I very much enjoy the process of revealing the life and experience of another being. I appreciate their historical perspective, as well as those truths they revealed only at the end.
I have also had the unique privilege of exploring these cashes of historical and personal treasures with the individuals who hoarded them, so the stories I hear as I open each new box are more full of color and personality than other descendants. As I sort through over 60 years of accumulation, I have become impressed by the leavings of both individuals and society. I look over my own trappings and I think about what they say to others. I think not just about the others of this current experience, but of some future not-as-yet-understood time and place.
This is a thought that lingers in the shadows of my mind as I produce each piece. It doesn’t take any kind of genius to see that an author’s intent and an audience’s perception rarely coincide, especially more removed one is from the other. A production can also be manipulated in such a way as to induce specifically desired perceptions in a known audience of any given moment; once matter exists it cannot be destroyed, only distorted. I’ll bet you thought that only applied to the physical world.
There is much more to existence than any one human can comprehend. More than just the abilities of the five empirical senses, as a species we accept the existence of emotions, and we have recently discovered the impact emotions can have on the physical. The advent of stress-related illnesses has taught us this. It should also teach us that there are un-foreseen results of current understandings. In the 1980’s learned about stress, in the 2000’s we have “mental health” days and doctors who specialize in pain management. Certainly the farmers of the 1800’s could not have conceived of things.
Then there is this new method of communication that has encased the world in it’s web. I have gone through the boxes of my grandparents thinking of my own boxes beneath the stairs and what they will tell people of me. The individuals who learn of my in the future may never see any of those boxes. We usually think of archeology as a physical process, but I see that it will exist in ways most people do not consider. Just because our letters are not hand-written, does not mean they are not kept. Just because our words do not exist on paper, does not mean they do not exist. IN deed, we have recently learned that words we thought would disappear with a stroke of a key, can re-emerge years later in un-foreseen ways.
Which is why I produce every letter with the thought that this will be seen in some distant future by beings I cannot even understand. They may see more of my life than I intend, or they may see some manipulated portion. There may even be some unexperienced being reading this at this very moment. It is my hope that, in some distant future, someone will compile my work in one unite to be shared with others, so they can interpret for themselves the truth of who I am and what I have overcome. Mostly I want them to read in my work how I influenced this existence to be a better place in spite of itself. Someday this will be understood, more will be searched for, revelations will bring more confusion, and research will renew.
May the world begin again.