Beth's Ponderings I love history and learning about things of the past, and I love looking at memorabilia for yesteryear. I was fortunate enough to be able to look through a suitcase of paperwork from my paternal grandparents. Reading the copies of letters sent off, and replies received, gave me a glimpse into their lives, as well as the particular time period. Finding out how long it took my grandfather to do the mail run - which the Northwest Mounted Police did between Edmonton and Calgary - almost puts our current postal system to shame. Seeing a receipt for a $20 monthly payment for land he bought at the turn of the twentieth century is hard to fathom when you look at land prices today. When they moved to the Crowsnest Pass in the 1930s, he could have bought almost a whole mountain for a penny an acre, but couldn’t afford it. My maternal grandparents owned a store, and it was interesting to read through old receipts to see how prices for groceries and gas have changed - hint, a LOT! It was a different way of life, but at the time it was happening, to them it was just life, or business, as usual. Why they decided to keep what they kept for papers and such isn’t always obvious, since it wasn’t earth-shattering for them. Just the mundane, everyday stuff of life. In 50 to a 100 years will there be any of that left in our world for our descendents to pour over and learn about what life was like in the early years of the twenty-first century? So much of what goes on in our lives is digitalized - we don’t keep much in tangible form any more, and much that is tangible, we tend to dispose rather than have it clutter our lives. I was recently cleaning out some files and came across some receipts from almost 10 years ago. As I debated whether to keep them or not, I asked myself if there was anything on them that someone like me - interested in “everyday” history - would find valuable in them. In most cases, there wasn’t, but I did decide to keep a few. Who knows, maybe someday someone in the future will consider them gems.
Beth's Ponderings Often you hear people ask what you would do if you knew for sure that you would not fail. While that is a great way to get out of your own way, see beyond perceived obstacles, and take great leaps of faith, author Elizabeth Gilbert asks something different. She asks, “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?” This asks you what is so important to you that you would pursue it, no matter what, even knowing that it may never happen. What relationship is so vital that you will put all of yourself into it, even if it doesn’t last, or begin for that matter? What do you want to learn even if the odds are so stacked against you that no one will help guide you? What goal consumes you so much that your life will be meaningless without it? Personally, I like this version of the question better as it puts the emphasis on the journey, or process, rather than focussing just on the end result. But maybe what we should be doing is redefining what we call failure. Every child “fails” at their first attempts to eat with cutlery, talk clearly, walk, play with toys and every other aspect of their early development. But, when as child does that, we don’t say they “failed,” we call it learning and growing. Every child “fails” at something their first day of school, as they enter a completely new environment and have to learn new rules and ways of interacting with others. But, we don’t say they “failed” if they do something wrong, we say they are adjusting. When do we draw a line and suddenly call our attempts at something new, or our exposure to new environments, a “failure?” When my niece was younger and tried something which didn’t turn out quite the way she expected it to - i.e. she didn’t do it like I, as an adult, did it - her response was, “I’m just learning” and she’d try again. Maybe if we did more learning and adjusting in our lives, we’d find we are more successful at whatever we do.