Grounding history

Hit and Miss #88


A hopefully happy Sunday to you.

You may know that I’m very interested in local history. I read almost every plaque I encounter—though sometimes problematic, plaques physically represent historical events and people, often in a significant place. Some people wonder at this interest of mine, asking why I spend so much time feeding it.

Walking along the Canal yesterday, I was finally able to articulate why I take such a strong interest in local history.

I have a tendency to constantly turn thoughts over in my head. I replay recent conversations. I play act conversations I expect to have soon. Since I walk without music, these are the thoughts that occupy me on my frequent rambles. This can be exhausting.

Local history offers a remedy.

Knowing historical oddities about the area around me offers another point of focus. It draws me from the thinking quagmire. For example, walking along the Canal I think of its history, from the reason for its winding course to its near destruction in the early 1900s (all for a railway tunnel that, 100 years later, we’ve finally kinda built). There’s more to note about the Canal, and there’s just as much about the rest of the city. Local history grounds me. (Local history seems undervalued—it’s essential to nuancing historical trends. Grounded history grounds history.)

The past prevents me from overthinking the present. This is why I study history instead of a technical discipline—to maintain perspective. Grounded history grounds me.

All the best for the week ahead!