What is History? (P2)

In this 2nd post of Sparkshaüs’ Goggles series I’ll address History in terms of features.

What is History?

It’s a matter of size, scale and force of impact.

Of size, because of the way you write or talk about it. Is it with the capital “H” or the regular one? With the capital “H”, History refers to something distant from us, as individuals. It’s about what is common to the greater number, to a group you might or not even be part of. For example: the Europeans, the New Yorkers, the Trekkies, the Generation X, etc.. At the opposite, history with the regular “h”, finds its grounds in what is personal to each and everyone (e.g. all the things that – since you were born – helped shape who you are today). In a way, one might consider that before being written with a capital “H”, History is lived at a human scale, with a regular “h”.

History is a matter of scale. Of how big and how high are your expectations about History before you’re even introduced to it (in a discussion or at school). Just like the ones you might have for the latest album of an artist, the newest product of a company, or even about a person one of your friends wants you to meet.

The “H” word also has to do with a force of impact. Something that usually translates in imprints History leaves on your imagination and sparks it creates in your eyes. The key being how close are the different dots of the story being told from the ones of your own story. Just like when you cross two images one over the other to see if they’re alike at some points. In the case of a story, the dots can be many things; the event being told, the characters involved, their personality traits, the location where it all happens, even the emotions, desires and aspirations expressed (by the characters).

When those three features (of size, scale and force of impact) are combined, you get to a point where the lower are your expectations, the smaller is the “h”, the closer to yours the story being told is (or the more it intersects with yours), the stronger the impact of that same story can be on you. Because it will resonate with what you might have experienced or even what someone close to you had.

Think of a woman telling a story about how she felt when she crossed the finish line of her first marathon, some 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. If you don’t practice any sports or have any friends or relatives who run, chances are low that you’ll be much interested in that “old story”. If, on the contrary, you’re a runner giving a shot at your first official 5K, and that woman is your mother. How high do you think your level of interest for her story would rise? How much of her story could actually resonate with you? Surely more than in the first case.

In the end, there are as many stories (and possible versions of them) as there are people but something remains the same: the closer and deeper a story intersects with your own (history, personality, path), the greater its impact it can have on you.

It’s actually when History is brought back to its human scale that it resonates the most with people. As through the encounters and discussions we all have, everyday, there’s always that special opportunity that can pop up. The one of discovering in the story of someone else that little something in ours that will make us say “me too” and then connect, bond with that person. Let it be your interest for Italian wines or modern architecture, for instance. Bonding with others is key in human development. Try to imagine your life without any connections, bonds or relations with others, for a sec. Even Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” couldn’t do it!

Joke aside, what is History for Sparkshaüs? It’s something that (when is brought back to its human scale) allows anyone to connect with and relate to others.

What story did resonate the most with you recently?

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