Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hunting for History

Lillie Mae Ledford, WWII era Appalachian musician of world fame.  My mother knew her; they were children together.  I colorized and repaired this photo several years ago for Don Fig, on behalf of Gladie Creek Historical Site, in the Red River Gorge of Eastern Kentucky. ~ RLMT

     How does a person go hunting for history? The library, bookstores, the internet, word of mouth? Each source will present but one facet of the precious jewel of truth. History, just as perhaps beauty, finds its truths in the eye of the beholder.

      Consider a war. How might a soldier on either side tell the way things happened? An officer? The ruler who might sit on one side or the other of the conflict, or merely be neighbor to it? A child caught in a crossfire, perhaps damaged for life by it, or losing his/her parent(s)? Someone far away, someone with family in the war zone, worry keeping them close to the news channels and newspapers? As each person's story is told, where and what might be their future(s)?

     Light and dark, past and future: balance. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

      History holds the roots of every possible future. Whose history, whose future? Story is our lives, and our lives are our stories.

      Each of us bears a different version of the truth. Nock the arrow, pull the bow, and choose your target. If the wind is right, the arc of projection calculated precisely, and neither shooter not that which has been chosen as a target moves, all shall be well. Should but one variable be off by the tiniest of flickers, all efforts may, by comparison, come to naught.

       Choose carefully. Worry not at all, for all there is to lose is a life well-lived: yours.

      "She, I mean... she sounds so sane!" Some poor bewildered person might say, well-meaning and confused. The plain facts presented with hard proof and a shatter-winded spectre of mental imbalance becomes visible, smirking, lurking casually in what seemed heretofore to be an ordinary harmless scene.

      And so the target has just moved, the wind shifting abruptly, a small but crucial stone underfoot rolls, and nothing is ever quite the same again.

      It all depends on whose story is history. The future is a creation of reality and conjecture, of perspective and calculated windage, presumably immortal and unchanging.

      Cultural history, responsibility, conflict of truths, elders or children, respect, love, fear, concern. Turbulence in a sea of tears, or the sweet scent of honeysuckle and wild roses, thorns and all, carried on a dark night's tangled winds?

      All depends on the devotion and the skill of the hunter.