07 February 2011

History for 2000

The love of history is the telltale sign of aging. I decided this the other day, when I sat down to watch television. As I browsed the various channel offerings - movies, cartoons, sitcoms - I felt that the most enjoyable thing for me to watch that afternoon was Rick Steve's Europe. It was an episode about Slovenia. Beautiful country! I was completely enthralled. I even laughed WITH Rick!

Yes, I have become my parents.

I'm not saying that in a bad way. It would be a great thing if I ended up anything like my parents. What I mean is, I am no longer a child. Long past are the days when I would rather play on the playground than listen to a museum guide discuss paintings or a historical mansion. Now I do those things in my spare time and drag my husband along. I used to shrivel at the idea of watching Jeopardy or any program on PBS for longer than it took to change to a friendlier channel. Not any more. No, I am becoming an adult.

It was as I watched, and enjoyed, a documentary on a largely forgotten country in Europe that I realized there is a cycle to life. There must have been a time when we were all bored children on a family vacation where Mom and Dad were excited to learn and educate their children. I remember a particular visit to the Shakers in Vermont. My parents tried to calm our laughter during an after dinner walking tour, as my brothers and I discussed how we had been served edible flowers in our Shaker salad so our farts would smell more rosey. But as we grow up, we all turn back to our history and try to connect the dots or are fascinated at how someone hundreds of years ago had such foresight and wisdom.

I saw this idea of a life cycle the other day as I was reading a medical blog, since that's what I do know... research what it will be like to be the wife (read: "widow") of a medical school student. The author, a physician, was talking about how he has seen the influence of death in the lives of patients. He mentioned three things that patients inevitably think about, confirmed in a study and with this address from Steve Jobs (I highly recommend watching it), as they approach death:
-Was I loving/loved?
-Was my life unique/ Did I do things my way?
-Is the world a better place because I was here?

Isn't it interesting that as we prepare to die that we all have the same concerns? And maybe even more interesting is that none of these concerns have to do with finances, possessions, careers, or the other things I seem to worry about daily. People think about their life's actions and how it will effect others and history.

So why do I blog this theory? Well, first off I think my life cycle theory is pretty great and completely validated so it was necessary to share. Secondly, according to the television series Who Do You Think You Are?, we should probably be thinking about those three questions now because after we're gone our great-great-grandchildren may one day be famous one day and come looking for us to have been honorable and made a worthy contribution in the world. And lastly I want to prove there is a purpose to all the TV hours I consumed while ill last week. It was obviously an educational investment!