When I was a schoolgirl, history bored me.
But then again, my only exposure to it was through textbooks, which have a knack for distilling entire civilizations into lists of emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates and military generals, whose insatiable quest for power is deemed the only story worth telling.
Understandably, we know more about the superficial trappings of the wealthy and the powerful than we do ordinary people. If any house is going to survive, it will be one that is well constructed to last. Gold and silver and precious gems are treasured — and kept — moreso than the implements of the poor.
Even today, we focus on the lives of our contemporary nobility, those who have leveraged themselves into a position to purchase power and fame. But if we look to them to tell humanity’s story — his story, her story — we limit ourselves.
Because history is the tale of “ordinary” people — our hopes and dreams, our struggles and triumphs, the many challenges we face (often because of the emperors, kings, conquerors, presidents, financial magnates, and military generals) and how we chip away at them, day by ordinary day.
The artwork, Forgotten Path, celebrates the determination, strength, and dignity of regular, everyday, normal, ordinary people. Along a country path, in the midst of an overgrown copse of trees, a house stands. It has been abandoned for years, forgotten, because the people who lived here are long gone, their story unknown.
But we can piece a story together. The house is decently built: someone took time and care to craft a home for their family. It’s located in farm country, so it’s likely that the family grew crops and kept animals. Children played in the yard. Someone, probably a woman, cooked and cleaned, washed clothes and hung them out to dry.
Each day there was work to do; each night, light glowed from the windows as the family ate, read books (there are volumes, scattered about, inside), talked. We don’t know if the family was a happy one or a sad one, cheerful or angry, but they worked and played, ate and slept, dreamed of a future worth dreaming about, and worked to make it come true.
That kind of history? It’s not boring.
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