Just before I moved to Seattle, I drove over to the house I used to own in Florida to say goodbye to it. I almost drove past it without recognizing it, such were the number of improvements the current owner had made. That was kind of disconcerting.
One of the things that he changed was the front steps, which I had toiled over to make unique looking, and yet safer for my elderly neighbors. I remember drawing a crowd as I used my sledge hammer and framed my bricks. I was really proud of myself.
When the current owner undid my hard work, I wonder if he found my time capsule. I left pictures and mementos and wrote about what my life was like living in that house. I assumed that capsule would be there for more than the twenty years it lasted.
Time capsules have always intrigued me. They’re little messages that you send into the future. They allow you to feel as though you own a little piece of immortality.
In a way, that’s one of the reasons people have children. It’s how you continue the life of your family far beyond your own life. I often wonder about my distant ancestors. Could they have possibly conceived of the life I’m living now, thanks to them? Did they even have time to give me that much thought? They are strangers to me, and their lives, for the most part, were nasty, brutish and short. Did they ever get the chance to gaze up at the stars and think about the future?
If you’re like me, you’d like to have a lasting impact upon the world. You’d like to make a positive difference. Without even realizing it consciously, most of us are sending out quiet little time capsules. We write, we create, we give advice, we start traditions and family stories and build things. We inspire. We make history.
And quite often, the beneficiaries of these time capsules will never know who sent them. Who started the movement that changed that law? Who was the first one to touch the toe of that statue for good luck? Where did my blue eyes come from?
Just by virtue of being alive, we all stand upon the time capsules, both literal and figurative, of the past, and send time capsules into the future as well.