I wonder what you think of when you hear the word ‘history’? Possibly, the subject that you do or have studied; events in the distant past or historical eras? Perhaps a narrative of events, chronicles or stories of things that happened in the past? However, history is more than just events that happened a long time ago. History is any time that has come before today.
Each of us here has a history, starting from the moment of our birth, or perhaps even from the moment of conception as suggested in the Eighteenth Century Novel, The Life and Times of Mr Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, perhaps even before that. We could each make a timeline of our lives that might feature events such as starting school, the birth of siblings, a special holiday, illness, examinations and many other defining and important moments.
There is a well-known saying – a bit of a corny one - that goes: “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called ‘the present’.” Although well known, it is not certain who first said it and it has been attributed to several people including Eleanor Roosevelt and the artist Bil Keane. It certainly crops up in Kung Fu Panda. Although a bit corny, like a lot of corny things, there is a decent amount of truth in the saying.
Yesterday is now history for each one of us. How much can we remember about yesterday, or the day before or our summer holidays? Unless we have experienced a momentous event, either in our own lives or in the life of the nation, probably little will be remembered of each individual day that we live. Have you even thought how many days you have lived?
18 at weekend 6574 days
17 at weekend 6209 days
16 at weekend 5844 days
15 at weekend 5479 days
14 at weekend 5113 days
That’s a lot of days and a lot of memories, isn’t it? It is also a lot of time for opportunity and a lot of history.
I was pretty horrified to work out, incidentally, that I have managed 17 351 days so far…
But if that is history, what about our tomorrows?
Who here knows what the future will hold for them? Clearly no one has absolute surety on that. We may have hopes and dreams for the future, but things can happen that completely change those aspirations. We might not do as well in a subject as we had expected; our family might have to move home or our friendship group might change; we might have to face an illness or an injury or some other significant challenge. In short, nothing is certain. None of us knows what our future will hold. The future is a mystery.
What about today? The present?
Each of us woke this morning to a new day, one that we have not lived before. Today, nothing is exactly the same as it was on previous days. It might seem to be the same: we got out of bed grumpy as usual; breakfast was possibly the same; and many of us will have followed pretty much the same routines that we have followed the same routines that we have followed countless times before.
However, nothing in nature is the same. The air that we breathe will be different from the air we have breathed before; the water that we drink will be different; and the sky, the clouds.
And our experiences will all be different, too. We will face new challenges, have new opportunities and learn new lessons