In just the last week I tripped over these three tidbits:
On Sunday, our family went to Armonk, NY for Frosty Day. This town was home to Steve Nelson, the lyricist who wrote Frosty the Snowman. There we stood in the Village Square where 65 years ago, Frosty invited the kids to “catch him if you can.’
On Tuesday, I was distracted from work by one of those “20 Things You Didn’t Know About…” click bait articles. The subject in this case was Lucille Ball. When Lucy gave birth on the show, it was a major cultural event. Lesser known is that she insisted that she take time off to be with her newborn. As a pioneer of maternity leave, Lucy inadvertently ushered in a new innovation – the rerun – to fill her time slot while she was out.
On Thursday, in a biography of Henry David Thoreau, I read of his visit with then unknown poet, Walt Whitman. Thoreau noticed that Whitman had taken a sentence from a private letter from his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, without permission and had it printed on his latest edition of his new book, Leaves of Grass. Emerson’s sentence “”I greet you at the beginning of a great career” became the first ever cover blurb.
These seemingly innocuous anecdotes share a common theme. They are origin stories of things whose histories I have never previously given a moment’s thought.
Each discovery led to a spark of satisfaction, a tiny little smile, and a moment of “ah” followed.
It was a reminder that everything comes from something and by extension everyone comes from somewhere.
Re-runs, maternity leave, holiday songs, cover blurbs and endorsements all started somewhere and for some reason.
As did the food you eat, the technology you use, the transportation you take, and on and on.
Every person and everything in your life that helped you get to where you are – has its own story.
When we are introduced to the origins of things, it affords us the opportunity to both understand and appreciate them just a little more.
It is easy to take for granted that everything just is without realizing that there was a time when it wasn’t.
Why is this important?
When we take things for granted we tend to value and understand them less.
And when we don’t know where things come from we become complicit in their making – robbing us of an opportunity to make better decisions for our selves and our society.
Pick one thing today – and ask yourself: “Where did that come from?”
Then find out for yourself.