The Human Story – Artifacts & Secrets
The Human Condition is fascinating, which is why I suppose there are libraries full of fiction, biographies and non-fiction based on people’s stories.
No other type of creature on the planet has so many complicated and varied sorts of interactions as we homo sapiens do. The animal kingdom does have its drama, of course, but most of it is based on food, procreating and status. We humans take it a step further with innovation, imagination and planning our strategy beyond one or two moves.
That being said, it’s amazing how such sophisticated creatures allow history to repeat itself over and over again even though we should know better.
I like a good story (fact or fiction) and I find other people’s stories compelling. I am considered a good listener and many a time I’ve had people confide in me. Part of that is that I am compassionate but the other part is that I truly enjoy listening to people share their stories.
Last March I took a class on death scene clean up. There just happened to be a scene close to where the class was and we were allowed to view the environment where the death had occurred (massive heart attack). The whole thing was intriguing. Gross, but really, really interesting.
We met with the relatives who needed something out of the apartment and they gave us a little back-story; a history of heart attacks in the family, other family members who had died of massive coronaries, death.
Once we were in the deceased man’s apartment, we were told to observe where the signs of body fluids were (I didn’t realize that massive heart attacks can cause victims to vomit blood – they don’t show that on TV.) and to look for a set of keys the family needed. This afforded me the opportunity to consider who this man was based on his living space. I was amazed at how much I understood him by seeing where he lived.
He had two bikes, but lived alone. Maybe it was nice to have a friend over and be able to take a ride together. He had all different sizes of free weights in his little living room. He had a bowl full of fruit (specifically bananas) on his kitchen counter.
His environment spoke of his fight to stay healthy. He tried to cheat death by eating right and exercising. He died anyway. I’ll never know anything else about him. Only his living space gave away any clues as to who he was. His effort to stay healthy and alive was apparent.
People love human drama. You can tell a lot about a person based on the stuff they own. Anyone sifting through all of my stuff would come to correct conclusion that I am a raving lunatic!
My friend Amy used to love going through my purse back when we were in junior high together. She’d ask me two or three times a week if she could look through my bag. I’d always say yes. I had nothing to hide. I sort of understood her curiosity, but the contents of my purse rarely changed. Still it was endlessly entertaining for her. I never had any money and though I may have had a note from a boy once in a while, I’d put those in my pocket so there was never even the hint of romance buried in with all my other possessions.
I wonder what she was looking for? I wonder if sifting through my crap was like reading a story? I wonder if my purse was the only one she searched looking for clues or if there were others as well? I never asked, though I am sort of curious now. Perhaps it was just simply a means of understanding the inner me by examining the things I carried around, sort of like an archaeologist searching through the remains of a lost civilization and building a human story with the pieces or a detective examining the evidence in order to unearth a secret.
I may never know.