Stories of Life, Part 8

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I’ve known for a while that there are songs which make me feel a certain way but I’ve recently noticed that there are songs which make me remember certain people. The music I listen to is a reminder of my life and the lives of others and I had never really I thought of it in this way. To me music is something that I listen to and I think about it in the context of me in the present, but there’s something more to it; something which tells stories of where I was and how I felt once upon a time.

Perhaps it’s not that music itself contains stories, although all songs are written to tell them, but that music becomes a catalyst for our remembrance of them. We associate the events of a particular day with the music we heard and so each time we hear that song again we’re reminded of those memories.

Unlike the other things I’ve written about, music is something which is not physically left behind, it is something intangible so you can never really know what you’ve left behind. You don’t know whether someone will laugh or cry whenever they hear a song. Even two people who react in the same way will do so for different reasons and at times it can seem impossible to pinpoint exactly why we’ve attached a story to a song. But nonetheless it is there and occasionally I stop and think ‘why?’.

So next time you listen to a song, stop for a moment. Where does it take you back to? Who were you with? There are so many stories which could come pouring back if only you would take the time to listen.


This is the eighth in series of posts exploring how humans leave things behind which can tell a little bit of who they are. If you enjoyed this one, why not check out some of the others.

Stories of Life, Part 1 – Objects

Stories of Life, Part 2 – Words

Stories of Life, Part 3 – Trees

Stories of Life, Part 4 – Marks

Stories of Life, Part 5 – People

Stories of Life, Part 6 – Photos

Stories of Life, Part 7 – Footprints

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The Moon

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Before telescopes came into common use, the moon was thought to be perfect, without blemish. But through closer examination with a telescope, it was discovered that the moon was not perfectly spherical rather it was covered with craters and mountains. Until they looked closely, it was impossible to see the imperfections. And it’s like that with life. From a distance perfection is seen and only when you get closer you can see the flaws.

I suppose in society, perfection is seen as the ultimate goal but we can never actually reach it. Instead when we try, we spend our entire lives chasing after something which at the end of the day is unattainable. But it seems to be attainable because at times perfection is all we are exposed to. We see pictures from a distance, filtered to make the subject more attractive. We only see what people are willing to see and it takes courage to share your flaws with the world. So we get stuck with only seeing perfection. Unless we look closer, have a bigger lens at times it can be hard to see more than perfection.

There is this idea in society, I think, that imperfections mark you, they define you, mean that you can never be complete. But is the moon any less beautiful because of its flaws? Do its craters impair its abilities to create tides? Just because our flaws are used to describe us, it does not mean that they must define us. Our imperfections exist and can be acknowledged but we are so much more than just them.

Whether you are aware of it or not, you are probably searching for perfection, comparing yourself to those who seem to have it all together. From a distance their lives seem perfect as the moon once did to mankind. But like on the moon, imperfections exist with people, you’ll never see the marks in perfection unless you look a little closer.

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Social Structure in Pompeii

Even though the social structure of Pompeii and Herculaneum was clearly defined,  social mobility was possible and many people took advantage of it. The lowest level of society were the slaves. They were mainly foreigners although some Romans sold themselves into slavery to pay off a debt. Both men and women could be slaves and as a slave were the property of their master who was free to do whatever he wanted with them. As such any children born to a slave woman were considered to be the property of the master.

The freedmen (liberatus) and freed women (liberta) were former slaves who had gained freedom either as a gift from their master through a process called manumission or by saving up money to buy their freedom. Once freed many slaves retained a client-patron relationship with their former master. Most worked in some kind of trade and some became extremely wealthy. Some freedmen became citizens however they could never have all the rights of a freeborn citizen.

The highest class of society were the freeborn however the men had greater power than the women. However some women such as Eumachia, Mamia and Julia Felix, were extremely wealthy and played a more active role in society. The freeborn were divided into the plebs humilus (the lowest freeborn), the plebs media (the rich) and the elite (landowning).

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To All the Authors – An Open Letter

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As an avid reader, I spend my life searching for books worth reading. And until recently, I never realised the effort which went into writing a book. I could try and explain why this is the case but then this letter would be about me when it really should be about you. This letter is a thank you for all that you do.


 

Dear Authors,

Bravery is often unthought of when we think of writing, but thank you for being brave. It is not easy to share a part of yourself with the world for them to judge, but thank you for having the courage to try. It can be hard not knowing how people will react, but each time there will be something which you can learn from and be encouraged by.

Originality is so much harder than I realised. Thank you for coming up with new ideas, new ways of entertaining us readers so that we want more. I think it’s one of those things where we can only notice its absence, ignoring its presence, so thank you for your imagination, your effort in creating a new world that we can travel to even if it’s a lot like our own.

Opportunities with books are endless. They can entertain and they can educate but only because the author wants them to. Thank you for taking the time to write, creating opportunities for your readers, giving them a chance to see their world with new eyes.

Kinship is why I keep reading. Readers refer to some books as friends because there was something in the book which made us feel. We can’t always put our finger on it, but it’s something which makes us feel a little less alone in our world, connected with those we will never meet.

Success looks different for all people, so congratulations on your success no matter how it looks. It’s worth celebrating your own success not comparing it to everyone else.

So thank you to everyone who writes whether I’ve read your work or not. Thank you for your bravery, your originality, the opportunities you create, the kinship you give and your success.

Keep writing,

Thought Student

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Behind the Camera

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We rarely see the whole picture do we? What we are given is usually the perfect image, not the other one hundred it took to get it. We do not see the struggles of the photographer balancing on one foot with the camera pointed at the ground, the camera held absolutely still, trying to get that perfect shot. The world looks very different from behind a camera.

Some people love being behind the camera. It gives them a chance to see the world from a new angle. To see what really happens. Or perhaps they choose to be behind the camera because they love the process, the creative side of taking that perfect picture. I’ve seen the work of some pretty talented photographers who love what they do and create beautiful pictures. I love seeing what is in front of the camera.

But have you ever thought what takes place behind the camera? All those unseen moments for that perfect picture? I’ve tried being the photographer and as I did so, I realised all the effort which goes into that one photo which goes out into the world. The world didn’t see every take, the time we ran to find the perfect lighting. And perhaps they don’t need to. But at times it is worth remembering that you don’t see everything. That the photo you see probably took three tries to get right.

Regardless of what you see there is a story of what took place behind the camera. A story which is often better than the photo itself or one which will make you think about the photo in a new way. Whilst there is a time to appreciate the beauty of a photo, there are times where it’s good to remember what has taken place behind the camera because that’s where all the hard work, and the full story really is.

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Stories of Life, Part 7

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Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but memories.

If there is anything that we are ever encouraged to leave behind it would be footprints and as any detective fiction fan would tell you, they can leave a wealth of information behind.

Footprints are usually left behind accidentally, they are not something people go out of their way to leave behind and so they often are only part of the picture, failing to leave much more than a shallow indent on the ground. But even that indent tells of what they were wearing shoes or bare feet. It might tell you how they walked (perhaps they ran) or if you can follow it, where they were going.

But trails of footprints fascinate me because they make me imagine all kinds of possibilities. They make me wonder how they got there and where their creator was going. I might never know the story behind them, but that is okay. The story I imagine is probably more interesting anyway.

Sometimes I try to create the perfect footprint, a clear print which will leave behind my mark and let people know I was there. But no footprint will last for a long time. It won’t be long before water or wind will make it dissapear. Footprints tell their stories only for a short time. But in the time they are there we get to wonder about why they are there, what happened for them to be there. The stories we get from footprints are fascinating in their fleetingness.

Do you ever notice footprints? Have you ever thought about the stories they leave behind. Perhaps it is not so much a story that can be ascertained as truth but more a story for our imaginations to create.


This is the seventh in series of posts exploring how humans leave things behind which can tell a little bit of who they are. If you enjoyed this one, why not check out some of the others.

Stories of Life, Part 1 – Objects

Stories of Life, Part 2 – Words

Stories of Life, Part 3 – Trees

Stories of Life, Part 4 – Marks

Stories of Life, Part 5 – People

Stories of Life, Part 6 – Photos

 

 

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Music

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Music has been made for millenia and has the power to inspire us or to make us feel emotions. Whilst I have limited skill in creating music I do enjoy it and can find some kind of beauty in this creative work. Music takes incredible skill to be able to do well. Almost everyone at some point in their lives will have tried to play an instrument before  realising the amount of work it takes to do anything well. And I think that is what we often forget when we hear music. We hear the perfection of a musician who has spent hundreds of hours perfecting their craft and then many more on learning to play their piece well. What we rarely hear is the first attempt that a musician makes to play the piece. We’ve missed hundreds of missed notes or incorrect fingering over the years it has taken for them to reach their level of skill to be able to create the amazing work we now have the benefit of hearing.

If you are just starting out and maybe you feel a little bit discouraged but nothing happens overnight (or if it does, it’s the exception rather than the rule). Everyone starts somewhere and with practise they can get better. Usually we will only see the finished product, the view from the top if the mountain or the musical masterpiece not the drafts which litter the floor, the steep, rocky slopes or the dozens of failed attempts of playing that piece. So appreciate the skills that you see, people have worked incredibly hard to achieve them but don’t be too disheartened, instead keep working  and perhaps one day you’ll be doing what you always wanted to do.

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