Studying history in school never sat well with me. When the great outdoors beckoned, sitting for an hour learning about some forgotten war that would be forgotten again as soon as the bell sounded.... well these legacies just didn't seem to matter. But here's a funny thing.
From the chatter around the camp fire, came milestone moments
In the great outdoors, a million miles away from those history lessons a remarkable thing happened. It was a quiet birthday celebration. Friends gathered around a camp fire in Outback Australia, when a ribald comment - "You've been around a while, you must have seen a few things!" suddenly changed the perspective of a lifetime.
"What's happened in your lifetime?" was the prompt. "I know that when I was born, a war broke out." I replied. I had hoped for a giggle. I got one. I also got a barrage of friendly abuse but it started me thinking. What has happened? And the list grew longer and longer. From the chatter around the camp fire came milestone moments. History had happened! And there in a desert, a classroom and the great outdoors finally found common ground.
I wonder what James Smithson, would think of his legacy?
In a visit to Washington, USA, I visited the Smithsonian Museum. Museum is not really a title I would use. It is vast! An enormous complex of buildings that house memorabilia from every facet of human and natural history. And it is fascinating. Yet it was a small innocuous plague that really grabbed my attention.
In short, it simply said, the Smithsonian Museum was started by the legacy of James Smithson about 150 years ago. He left $150, 000 to the development of education. My first thought.... I wonder what James Smithson would think of his legacy?!
What action has impacted history the most?
Working in photography, I am constantly scouring ideas. Images from round the world populate our daily lives. A figure of 6 billion image postings per day was once quoted. That's competition!
They cover every everything. From Space to the very depths of the Oceans, childbirth to funerals, wars to romance, machinery, architecture, microscopic life, food, lifestyle and ... you get my drift. It is everywhere.
In searching images there is often the thought... 'What action has impacted history the most?' The invention of the wheel? The telephone? The radio? TV? The gun? Or is it the photograph? It is a fraction over 200 years since photography was first conceived by Thomas Wedgewood (1800). The first recorded image by Daguerre (1838) is still to celebrate it's 200th birthday. I wonder what Wedgewood, Daguerre and Fox Talbot would think today if they could see the results of their creations? Their Legacies!
And in that wonderful thought, I have realised I am not only studying history, but helping record it. It is one of those warmly ironic moments that I hope brings a smile to the face of my poor, suffering history teacher. His legacy - I finally get History.
© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography Travel and Events Photography and Editorials