I think of them often, don't you? They were much like us, I think. More of them, though, when you add up the decades, the centuries, the eons, all the way back to the primeval "days of yore" when strange beasts roamed the earth — our ancestors among them, strange beasts themselves. Much like us, strange beasts that we are even today. Still staring up at our reflections in the sky.
Some things never change; there is a Spirit that moves through the generations, and is present in you even now. Especially now, because now is when you and I are alive, right this very minute. It's exciting, isn't it? Life begets life, a perpetual chorus of souls arisen from genes. This is not my own paean to reproduction — it is the many mothers and fathers singing through me, loving their children, overjoyed by our miraculous emergence and persistence.
We ought to romanticize the past, and the people who made it. Ought is superfluous, though — it's not like we can resist the urge. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on." A serenade acknowledges passion, and pathos, rather than instilling them.
The people of the past were much like us and of course that's not always a compliment. We do terrible things to each other. We hurt and we flail and we fail. So did they.
We must forgive them, I think. Nobody chooses who they are, even the worst sadists. Were you able to opt for unerring virtue instead of expressing your flaws? Could you have done that? They weren't equipped either, however astoundingly depraved those flaws. It is hubris to forgive yourself without forgiving others, a mockery of absolution. (Yes, I ripped that concept from the scripture.) Evil is evil, but there is no virtue in mercy meted only to the deserving. It's like congratulating yourself for being nice to someone you adore.
The people of the past are still with us in exactly the way that your great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandfather are with you. Their bodies long since rearranged back into the Everything of which each of us is a partitioned element — yet transmitted beyond their own lifespans, through you. To hate previous generations is to hate yourself, and you're too beautiful for that. Don't repudiate the starlight.
Might fuck around and email you more often this year. (Might, no promises!) In spurts of inspiration I write a fair few short pieces like the one above that I end up deeming unworthy, that I don't feel sure of — but y'know, a blog post needn't be perfect to be pleasingly thought-provoking. Right? I hope. Trying to lean into hope these days...
Talk soon. I have so much to say.
Header art: Galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid by Salvador Dali.