Yesterday, I had the unexpected privilege of being taken on a private tour of a museum attached to a university’s archaeology department. The tour was different from other museum tours in that we were guided by the museum’s curator, a preeminent scholar in middle eastern antiquities, who actually let us touch some of the artifacts.
At one point in the tour we were examining a collection of stones that had been shaped into primitive hand axes. The curator casually remarked. “This one is about a million years old.”
I was not sure I had heard him correctly. “Wait, what? You said ‘a million years’?”
“Yes” The curator held the axe in front of him.
“May I hold it?” I asked.
“Of course.” He handed it to me. As I ran my fingers over the stone’s cool rough surface, I noticed a quizzical look on the face of the woman standing next to me.
I said to no one in particular, “I am touching something that was made and used by a sentient hominid — one of our ancestors– a million years ago.” I saw the light come on inside her when she caught on to the significance of what I said, and she then reached out and took the stone from me.
As the tour continued we had the opportunity to handle other artifacts. Finally, towards the end of the tour, we came to a display case of first century Roman objects. The curator slid open the glass door of the case and pulled out a rectangular piece of fired clay.
“This is a piece of tile from the floor of the Praetorium in Jerusalem. The Praetorium was the building where criminals were tried, the one mentioned in the New Testament gospel accounts.”
There was a slight pause as his words sank in. Then a woman from the group quietly stepped forward and gingerly touched the tile with the tips of her fingers. Several others of us followed suit.
There I was in an office building in 21st century North America touching a piece of the floor where Jesus Christ had walked.
I think our desire to touch these artifacts was an intuitive attempt to connect with the energy of the past. We cannot physically time-travel, but our consciousness can — and it did yesterday afternoon.
Lgloyd (c) 2014
I have difficulty writing events in my past. Not because of any trauma; it’s just that I am so concerned about the here-and-now that I just don’t think about the past that often. Sometimes I must force myself to go back in time so the richness of my past experiences are not lost to me.
Here is one exercise that, in part, takes me back a few decades in my memory. The questions come from Lunch Box Spy, an exercise from the vaults of the Soul Food Cafe.
What can you tell me about the lunches you eat? My lunches are usually easily and cheaply made from whatever seems appealing to me at 7 a.m. in the morning (leftover from my weekend cooking). Unfortunately, it is not always appealing five hours later.
What do you remember about your school lunches? I remember that they were always comprised of a sandwich, usually made on that white squishy bread in the balloon bag (you know which I mean), a bag of potato chips, and cookies. If my mom knew then what we all know now about this type of food, she would be mortified with what she was feeding us.
Were there any family jokes about what you liked to eat? I was chided for liking canned “‘sketti”. This was what I usually had for Saturday’s at-home lunch. I know, I know: bad, bad, bad. But even to this day, if it weren’t for the fact that this food product is so high in sodium and refined carbs, I would still eat it. Comfort food to the max.
Who made your lunch? My mom.
Were you ever able to buy a lunch? I suppose if I insisted, but our cafeteria was usually filled with kids with whom I did not wish to associate (thugs, jocks, and cheerleaders). I felt safer bringing my lunch and eating anywhere but there.
What did they stock in the school canteen? I’m not sure but I heard it was vile.
Did you ever slip across the street with your mates to the fish and chip shop? No “fish and chip shops” around the ‘hood. It was more likely Carl’s, McDonalds, or Tito’s Tacos.
Did any one in your class have a better lunch than you? What did they have? Were you ever able to swap with them? I can’t remember what they had but I do know that we did not swap.
Where did you eat your lunch? Who ate their lunch with you? Did you eat alone? I usually ate on the school’s front lawn,under a big stone pine in front of the theatre building. My regular companions were the other geeky kids or the super-smart kids when they were not busy at student government or their service club meetings. Eating under the pine tree kept us geekies from being picked on by the homies since they were usually busy wrecking havoc in the cafeteria.
What do you have for lunch now? Today I have brown rice and carnitas for lunch.
Do you still own a lunchbox? No, I have an insulated lunch bag and I pack my food in plastic containers.
Do you make your lunch or buy it? I usually try to make and pack a lunch since my work cafeteria is too expensive. I will occassionally treat myself to a purchased lunch — especially if the grill special happens to be Loco Moco.
Do you eat the same thing every day? During a given week, yes. I cook on Sundays and eat what I made every day. Then it is something new the following week.
What is the worst lunch you have ever eaten? I can’t remember. I am grateful for whatever there is.
What is your favourite place to buy lunch? Tito’s Tacos if I happen to be off work and in the neighborhood.
Personal analysis: This was initially quite difficult but the memories of school lunches and the classmates with whom I shared lunch came flooding back. A worthwhile exercise.
About the image: I found this image on the internet and immediately recognized it as one I had at one time. I don’t remember actually selecting something so hideously “not me.”
Today’s prompt is about escaping.
There are days that I feel like all the responsibilities of life are nipping at my heels and I just want to drive away:
The Daily Prompt asks this: “Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.”
Do a lot of writers really start writing first thing upon waking? I’m sure some do. I don’t, but I am amazed and compliment those who can. My inner critic tells me that my thoughts are not going to be something I want to put to paper. For example, this morning my first thought was “Oh, crap, I forgot to put the kitchen trash out last night. I’d better do that before I leave for work or it’s going to smell to high heaven by the time I get home.”
My first thoughts were about stinking garbage.
I suppose a journal entry about garbage could eventually lead to some good polished writing. Most likely, though, in my case it won’t. For me, the mundane and ordinary have a different purpose. They provide the backdrop over which the extraordinary can shine. When I take the garbage out, will I breathe in the fresh, clean air of a glorious red dawn? Will I see the raccoon that hangs out by the dumpster? Will see a beloved friend along the way? What beautiful inspiration will come my way that I can write about?
Looking for the extraordinary things among the mundane is like spinning fine strands out of the tangled fibers of raw wool. It takes skill and patience, but it can be done.