When I was a young man I didn’t care much for history. It didn’t have much value for me. Why do we have to remember all these names and dates? Why do we remember this person, and not another?
I always appreciate the warnings about not forgetting history to avoid repeating it… But it seems like bogus wisdom. No matter how much history we remember the cycles always repeat. Good and evil always play their game of tug-o-war with the average folk caught in the middle.
As I age and become more familiar with my mortality, I am starting to get it. Slowly. And I have come to appreciate more the stories from our past. (Though I’m still not clicking with geneology, sorry mom).
As I walked to the bus in San Francisco on Monday, a walrus caught my eye. There is a mural along the side of a bank building with a string of walruses (or is that walri?)
In my youth I would have walked by and ignored it. But my mind, building on the value of memorial, triggered me to go back and investigate.
There is a placard to the bottom right that tells about the building and it’s walrus string. It turns out the building is over 100 years old, built after the 1906 quake destroyed the original. And before the original was built there this was probably a short area of sand. This location was a block from the beach before landfill projects filled in and stretched the land another 1/2 mile into the water. That project traces back to the 1850s. Imagine, gold money from the 49ers probably funded the landfill!
Found history is much more fun than forced history. This felt like a discovery instead of a requirement. And I was delighted to realize as I continued my walk to the bus that I would have been under water 160 years ago (give or take a few).
History is random in its remembrances. When the artists carved these walrus heads did they have any idea that they would still stand over 100 years later? The names of the carvers are long forgotten. But today, I took notice and my world was impacted more than 100 years later.
There is no way to guarantee your legacy. There is no way to know what you will be remembered for, or if you will be forgotten. But remember that the work and interactions you perform today, may, be around for another 100 years. Your name may be forgotten, but your impact will not.
200 Battery St
San Francisco, CA 94111