All the Things I’ll Never See

Often times we stand in the here and now and we believe that we understand what brought us to this point. We take for granted certain things about ourselves and our world. We have seen the past and we look forward to the future. In reality, we have personally experienced very little in our own lives and we rely heavily on the stories of others to tell us about the things we will never see.

All the things we will never experience for ourselves, and all the times we have never been a part of, must be learned again. These unseen events and people are nothing more than pages in a book, or words leaving someone’s lips. The story is recorded, either physically or mentally, and then passed down to us, but we can never truly know what it was like to stand in the middle of that moment and be moved by it.

Here are just a very few of the many things that I will never be able to see, but nonetheless shape me and the world I live in. The moment has passed and it will never come again. Though I may understand that this past does exist, in essence, I am completely ignorant to the truth that can only be fully known by someone who was there or who lived in a world much younger than the one I currently occupy.

I’ll never stand under the stars and look up at the moon and wonder what it is made of or how far away the stars are. People just like me have been there and stood under the stars looking back at the rest of us. They drove around, jumped up and down, and hit golfballs across the face of a dead lump of rock. Mystery solved, no more imagination necessary.

I’ll never walk down a hallway and see separate bathrooms for “Whites” and “Blacks.” I will never truly grasp what it was like to experience this void of separation that ran so deep for so long. My young life views this culture as it is now and the truth that it wasn’t always this way can sometimes seem a little absurd.

I’ll never stand in the crowd as John, Paul, George, and Ringo come out on stage and send the waiting crowd into a frenzy. As strange as it may seem, the simple gathering of these four guys playing music didn’t just change the lives of a few fanatical teenage girls. It did change things in a noticeable way and sent the world culture in a new direction.

I’ll never see my parents as teenagers falling in love for the first time. I’ve heard stories about their younger selves , playing drums and singing Janis Joplin songs, but it seems like it must be so long ago. I wonder if it seems like that far in the past to them? As I grow older will my memories get further apart, and harder to reach, or just more compressed so that the trip further into the past takes the same amount of time?

I’ll never come to the crest of a hill, look out across the other side and see land that is not already owned by somebody else. No matter how far you go you are never far from everyone else. When you get there you may find a soda can or some dirty socks under a shrub. Gone are the days when there was a wilderness to be “tamed,” when you could strike out towards the country to start anew.

I’ll never stand in front of a Washington D.C. monument and hear a speech about dreams. Will there ever be a moment again when someone speaks so passionately and effectively about something that is so important to them? Or have we become so jaded and cynical of everyone and everything that when they speak we ask ourselves what is their real agenda, or what’s in it for them?

I’ll never stand on the beach and stare into the vast expanse of ocean and wonder what is on the other side. Everyone knows what is there and we all have seen the pictures to prove it. There are other people very much like us over there and they are standing on their own beach. No monsters, no demons, no edge to fall off of.

Absolutely everything we learn about the past is told to us by someone else. The separation between what we know and what we have experienced is vast indeed. We do not inherently know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, we have never seen this happen. Most of us have never actually witnessed penguins diving off the Antarctic shelf or felt the heat radiating from the mouth of an active volcano. Yet, we take for granted that these things happen.

We do not even know everything about our own past. We must be told about the times we spent before we can remember. We are nothing without a past even though it is a past we largely have no personal knowledge of. I will soon become the bearer of the past for others, but how much do I really know?

9 responses to “All the Things I’ll Never See

  1. wow such writing with heart 🙂

  2. True. Beautifully expressed.
    Surely there’s something left…? A first of some sort.

  3. This is such a beautiful post. What you’ve written strikes me as something I often feel without truly realizing it…that I regret not being able to experience some things, even though I truly never had any control over it. How wondrous to be at the birth of the universe, or the shifting of continents…or any of the thousands, nay, millions of events that shaped our lives before humans were even a presence on the earth. Yet we know, or are at the very least able to learn about these events. I often live purposefully vicariously through others, but it’s amazing when you think of just how vicarious as a society we really are. Thanks for sharing…

  4. This piece of writing made me get goosebumps all over, its the same things I wonder about myself, but cant truley put into words…

  5. But believe it or not, you (we) will be able to express to our children all about the days before computers and the internet. We will have to explain about the world of books and how we only had 3 channels. We were connected to a telephone by a cord, and everything we said our parents heard. We didn’t have devices that binged and pinged and buzzed; we paid attention to each other.

    You are right, there are many things we’ll never do — but there so many things we have done that those who have come after us cannot grasp. You have the gift of words, so you will be able to explain these things.

    Thanks for visiting me today at Lessons for Teachers and Twits.

  6. There are still a few that will feel, wonder and be in awe of the Moon, the Stars, The Ocean and many more of those Amazing Mysteries we have “discovered.”
    Even when knowing these things, they are still in awe.
    Oh, to be like a child…
    As cynical and jaded as we may be, we CAN still wonder. We can still be amazed, we Can still Imagine and Create…
    You have done so…I guess part of the secret is to Allow ourselves.

    As for the Past…I am one of those that is Chained and Bogged down by it. I am trying to live the Now.
    I mean Experience it, Sense it, Feel it…not just let it go by…
    It is Quite the Challenge 😉

    Lovely Work of yours…

    • It is a catch-22 really, isn’t it? It’s the personal experience vs. humanity’s experience. I am always torn between whether it is wiser to learn from the mistakes of others or to experience and try everything for yourself. I guess for some things it’s obvious which way to go, on the other hand where would we be if nobody had the courage to come along and try it for themselves?

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