I still remember meeting my partner’s grandmother for the first time. She was petit, determined, and fastidious to a degree I have never seen before. Fierce, loyal, and would have taught the most ardent environmental warrior a thing or two about recycling. She had grown up in the Depression, so it was always fascinating to me to see those ripples of the past consistently influencing the present in the way they did things as a family. From washing dishes, to reusing containers, to making rugs from old clothes, nothing ever went to waste.
The older I get, the more I understand that this is not an isolated situation. So many families around the world and throughout history have been influenced by the past. From the horrors of colonization and war to the industrial revolution, our past is a constant shadow on the present.
This idea transfers beyond history and into imagination as well. There is no such thing as a completely original idea as everything we create in some way reflects our past experiences. That is not a negative. Far from it. We need to learn to embrace the inspiration that the past brings us, get inspiration from the rippling patterns. With enough practice, we might even be able to predict the future. Well, sort of. It might be better to say that we would better be able to see where things are headed.
The fact that the past is influencing the present isn’t something we should shy away from, we should embrace it. Help the present to evolve into something more beautiful, honouring those traditions that are useful, and doing away with those practices that are harmful.
If we are careful, we can learn from the past, problem solve the present, and predict the future.