Sunday, July 14, 2024

Marking time

Long before the company formerly known as Facebook appropriated the term “Meta” as its moniker, it meant something more. Or, at least, it was supposed to.
Meta meant the explicit details within the margins. The family birthdays written in the Bible on the shelf. The community calendars saved in the top drawer, family member birthdays highlighted in bold. The bookshelves full of photo albums and scrapbooks, complete with handwritten notes corresponding to locations, names and people found therein. The box of recipes annotated by this generation and the last, each sporting visible evidence of having been a favourite to someone at some point.
Appended to those margins, implicitly, are the intangibles. The smell when opening the door of grandpa’s long-abandoned farm truck. The sweet taste of mom’s apple pie. The raspy softness of a handful of hay. The clank and clatter of the neighbour’s lawnmower coming to life. The joy of a reunion.
Collectively, memories, and an awareness of having lived. A tapestry corresponding to a shared history. Meta. Those elements which define and add nuance to moments, stitching an unbridled richness corresponding to time here on Earth. Legacy.
The ancients knew of the importance of legacy, leaving fantastic evidence of empires that once were. We have the pyramids of Egypt, the wall of China, the temples of Greece, the cities of Guatemala and the mountain citadels of Peru to attest to it. Even our neighbours to the south have the Smithsonian Institute offering comprehensive voice to their complicated and yet marvellous past, as well as highlighting everything else they can think of.
Closer to home, we have The Pontiac Archives and The Pontiac Historic Society and Museum helping to ensure identity doesn’t fade from memory. Our very own newspaper, THE EQUITY, boasts a vast trove of detail now numbering 140 years of print and counting. Talk about rich local Meta.
What about us – as individuals? What’s our obligation or contribution to the great future unveiling of 2023? What does current Meta look like to posterity?
Future generations will likely use some tool similar to Google and search some repository similar to the internet, dredging up content which will either inform them of our history or lead them somewhere else where they might otherwise find it. Meta, the mega-corporation, may even figure in that equation as the murky waters of gathered information ebbs and flows.
But, if memory is to serve us well, and we surely all hope that it does, for being forgotten is one of the great fears of our time, we may need to serve memory with more intent – at least a little bit. And in that vein, it may be incumbent upon each of us to revisit times past and to mark our own time in whatever way we can, be it via personal journals, letters to the editor, artistic endeavours, or whatever.
We surely owe it to the past to keep the ball rolling. We surely owe it to the present, offering contextual details that only we can provide, thus ensuring our story is told as comprehensively as possible. And we surely owe it to the future, affording its inhabitants the same opportunity to deepen understanding that is now our privilege.

Glen Hartle


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