Learning A Lesson From History

By Jeremy Gulley

As a teacher, I am often humbled by my own assignments.

This summer, my Composition II class is spending time at the Miami County Historical Museum. Their assignment is to find something interesting about Miami County and write about it. I asked them to find a new angle if possible, and then make an argument for historical research using their work as evidence.

On Tuesday at the museum, I was privileged to be at the right place at the right time, and got to go through a scrapbook and picture album from the late 19th century that hadn’t been opened for some time. I looked through the book and landed on a picture that was taken in 1902. The picture was of a man about the age I am now. He was with a woman who appeared to be his wife and two small children played in the background. A dog was lying at the man’s feet, and their large home stood tall and elegant behind them.

But I couldn’t help but connect with him — his eyes and the look on his face reflected feelings that I have felt many times – the stress of life, worries about family and finances, and uncertainty about the twists and turns that life will undoubtedly be sending his way. As I stared at the picture, I felt as if the man was begging me to not make the same mistakes as him. “Don’t worry about the little stuff,” he seemed to say, “enjoy your family and your health while you can.”

One-hundred years have passed since that man stood in front of his house and had his picture taken. He, like me (and everyone), stressed over his life more than he should have. But where did it get him? He is forgotten, his photo album stuffed in a drawer in a museum until it was found by accident. All of the struggles and issues he dealt with in his life are long forgotten and don’t matter at all now.

As for me, in 2102 I will be gone, just like the man in the photo. All of the issues I face will be gone with me. The things that I stress over will be forgotten. All that will be left of me will be the stories that my friends and family pass on, and perhaps what I communicate through my eyes to those who look at my picture in a photo album.

The little things don’t matter as much as we think they do. That’s the point. We should make our photos real and alive and enjoy ourselves while we can. It’s not a fact that one day we’ll be just another photo in an album somewhere because we can be so much more if we don’t take ourselves too seriously and learn a lesson from history.


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Posted by admin on Jul 11 2012. Filed under Jeremy Gulley, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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