When Past, Present, and Future Collide

Notre Dame Burns

What happened to me today could probably be called an epiphany of sorts.  But I think it was something much less grand.  Something like getting a dose of reality.  Or putting things in proper perspective.  Or just plain being bummed out.

It actually began yesterday afternoon with a picture of Notre Dame on fire.  Eight hundred years of art and culture going up in flames!  I might well have been in the path of the smoke right here in Oysterville.  My eyes burned and the tears coursed down my cheeks.  But it wasn’t just the objects, themselves – it was that tangible grasp of history that the cathedral had provided to all of us – all thirteen million of us – who paid homage to our past each year by visiting Our Lady of Paris.

I first went in 1958 and then many, many more times.  I’ve taken guided tours, climbed the 422 steps or, sometimes, have gone to simply sit and look.  I’ve been there with loved ones who are no longer with us; I’ve been there on my own on a snowy winter night long ago.  Notre Dame is part of my history, too.

Published 4/16/2019

Today, I listened to environmentalist Bill McKibben talk on the radio about his new (just out today) book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  He pulls no punches when he talks about where we are here and now in the matter of climate change.  The book begins: “I think we’re uniquely ill prepared to cope with the emerging challenges. So far, we’re not coping with them. Still, there is one sense in which I am less grim than in my younger days. This book ends with the conviction that resistance to these dangers is at least possible.”

And I began to think – to seriously think – about living at sea level as the polar ice caps melt at ever increasing rates.  If, as I heard a “reliable source” say not long ago, the seas rise 30 feet in the next 80 years, that’s fewer years than I am old.  It is happening now!  In the present!

So… what of the future?  Perhaps my dream of making this place of ours into a small house museum so that future visitors might get a glimpse into our past… perhaps that is an unrealistic notion.  Perhaps we should sell while we still can and take the money for a whirlwind trip to see all the world’s historic landmarks while there is yet time?  But… to what end?  Change is inevitable and even memories fade…

One Response to “When Past, Present, and Future Collide”

  1. Mary Lyons says:

    Thank you, Sydney, for your thoughts. I also heard the NPR interview of Bill McKibben and it was daunting. I go back regularly to an old quote from the TV Guide astrologist;
    “As always, in the face of uncertainty there’s absolutely nothing wrong with “hope”.”
    And who am I to challenge the gifts from a TV Guide astrologist?!?
    As for your choice with regards to your home, I don’t think either choice will be “wrong”; they’re both right. Choose and enjoy!

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