It’s easy to take for granted how good we have it these days.
In my spare time I like to do a little storytelling. There’s never enough time in any given week to keep up with everything I need to do, and yet I’ve been carving out time to share stories that captivate me. These stories aren’t written, they’re verbal. But they often require research and preparation on my part, much like a newspaper article.
A few of the stories I’ve shared date back more than 20 years. And that’s where things get tricky.
Thanks to our growing online archive of information, there’s plenty to be learned about things that have happened in recent years. And if you’re interested in pivotal moments in history, plenty of information is available through your favorite search engine.
Two of my audio stories date back 20-30 years, and these stories aren’t particularly well known. I wasn’t talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall or the impeachment of former Pres. Bill Clinton. I was talking about people with criminal histories whose stories might have garnered national attention and online steam in 2017.
I can’t say these stories escaped notice back in their day, but they didn’t get the attention a tech-savvy audience would gobble up in today’s media landscape. And because of that, resources sharing details about my stories were hard to come by. There may have been great resources out there, I just couldn’t find them online. There is plenty of history out there that has never found its way to a digital platform, assuming it has been recorded in the first place.
I was reminded of this, yet again, last week. I was doing a little research into the history of Bloomington’s high school commencement exercises. It turns out things that might have seemed trivial once upon a time were of interest to me in 2017, but there’s no Wikipedia page to satisfy my curiosity.
The Bloomington district once boasted three high schools. Each school has held its own commencement exercise, to the best of my knowledge, and the location of that exercise has changed over the years. In trying to pinpoint where those exercises have been held historically, I learned the district didn’t have a comprehensive list detailing the location for each school’s ceremony throughout its history.
An online inquiry of those who participated in such exercises brought clarity to the subject, but there was still some confusion about what happened when, and where, among those who have knowledge about the locations.
How many people need a comprehensive list of the location, date, time and weather associated with every commencement ceremony that has occurred in the history of Edina? That’s probably a short list. But when you are seeking such information, sometimes it’s not as readily available as you expect, particularly given how often we receive quick – if not instant – online gratification.
Life is too busy to stop and record every trivial tidbit that happens. But I’d love to have a simple journal listing the participants, dates, location and weather of my annual spring camping trip. This Memorial Day weekend will mark the 28th annual trip. (I’m proud to say I’m the only member of the inaugural group to have participated in the past 27.) I never dreamed in the spring of 1990 that a group camping trip would become an annual tradition. I wish I would have had a clue, although it likely never would have occurred to me to document the proceedings.
Either way, too many memories of those days gone by are lost to the sands of time.
Our historical archive is growing at a mind-numbing rate. And life is too short to spend many of our waking hours each week archiving the events in our day-to-day lives.
If only we could know what trivia from today will be of interest to future generations, or ourselves. Without question, it’s more than we know.