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The Untold Stories

October 19, 2012

As a small child I can remember driving to a large city with my mother and grandfather to attend a family wedding. In order to get there in time we needed to leave on a weekday. This meant I missed a day of school. Prior to that day, the only time I missed school was when I was sick (which meant I was confined to bed or the couch.) As we drove through the city, I stared out the window fascinated by the comings and goings of others. It was the first time I ever really considered life outside of my modest sized city, in any real way. I watched as people stood in line for lunch, oblivious to each other. Others who drove to the store for groceries, or clothes. With my nose to the glass I stated to wonder who they were, where they were going, and what their life was like. It was the first time I really because interested in the untold stories.

As a (religious) history student I was always intrigued by the aspects of history that weren’t recorded. The everyday lives of individuals of a given time period. How did they spend their time, what dreams or wishes did they have? What worries did they keep secret, which ones did they share? I know there are small snippets of information out there ( I have researched some of them) but they don’t paint the whole picture. Sure we tend to know a lot about the men (mainly) and women (some) who ruled a particular country or area at a particular time period, I was always interested in these people, but more often than not I wondered what were the stories of those who are not mentioned in the history books? What of the solider serving under a particular unit with a famous war hero? What about his family and friends, what were their lives like? How about the people who got up every morning and went about their daily lives, never achieving the notoriety of the (in)famous?

Luckily as we have progressed as a society (on the whole) we have developed a finer sense of preservation. The letters from soldiers to their sweethearts are now considered pieces of history rather than throw away items. Diaries are kept, maintained and shared with the world. Small recipe boxes are laid out and shown. Pieces of furniture are preserved, wearing the marks and indentations of the past with pride.

Something  as “simple” as a handmade frock is displayed with care. I doubt the person who created that item ever thought it would end up in a museum, instead they may have hoped to catch the eye of some particular gentleman, or perhaps increase their skill. It’s these small every day items put on display that I find fascinating. Those untold stories. When I was younger my school mates and I would go on field trips to museums. As I stood looking at the different displays, I would always try to imagine the lives of the people who have gone before.

I find myself captivated by television shows who tap into these untold stories (more often than not, ones that take place in the past.) The big two that I am drawn to the most are AMC’s Mad Men and Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey. While I know these stories are fictional, and meant to create drama, there is just something about them that I can’t help but love. The glimpses into the ordinary lives of people, however small or make-believe keep me rapt with attention. The thing that gets me the most is the idea that while these people are fake, and their stories are probably far more drama filled than in reality, they hold a few grains of truth within them.

I think this is why I love knitting so much. As I work the stitches along my needles, I can’t help but think of the people who have done this very method before. Every time I turn the heel of a sock and become flush with pride, I wonder about all the other knitters living or gone who feel the same. The weather is starting to turn and now is the time when hand knits make their appearance, the stitches worked over hours of someone’s life the well wishes and good thoughts captured in each stitch. I stop and wonder about the knitters who came before, the ones whose stories will never be fully known. As I see a person bundled up in a scarf bracing against the wind, I have to think that at least through their knitting they will never be forgotten.

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From → Fiber Arts, Musings

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