Being an active Folkie in the 1960s, I get asked if I was at Woodstock occasionally. For the record, I categorically deny ever having been anywhere near Woodstock during that festival. Asking this question is like asking your average Roman citizen alive in 44 BC if they were present when the big guy got offed by his “friends.” No, I was busy picking up my second-best toga from the laundry.”
People who see history through a pinpoint hole make me jittery. They seem to lack the ability to see the bigger narrative. In my case, I was on my way traveling across Canada, a journey that was much more transformational than a drug-addled concert in the mud could have been.
In short, any time a significant event occurs, other contemporaneous and essential events ( if only to you) are also happening. People like to focus on single important events because it helps them create watersheds, moments when history appears to shift into new patterns.

Even if the events are watersheds, the most important stuff happens downstream, affecting individual lives or the further flow of events. History is flow, not a punctuation.

My trip to Canada resulted in an extended stay in Ottawa and contact with people who influenced me greatly as a woodcarver and human. The events of that time continue to affect my life to this day.
I’m on a grand adventure to the future. Excelsior!

5 Replies to “Excelsior!”

  1. You know I write historical fiction, or did, but anyway yeah. It bugs me a LOT that all of history gets compressed into ONE event or a handful of individuals. I watched a video last night I’ll share tomorrow. It is sort of about Plenty Coups, a famous Crow Indian leader. One of the people speaking on the video said it well. There were many other leaders among his contemporaries; Plenty Coups is a representative of all of them. Maybe that’s what Woodstock is. I would have hated Woodstock, absolutely. What was I doing then? Helping my mom get my dad into an ambulance so he could go to the hospital to get ACTH shots to give him some temporary relief his MS.

    1. Television reinforces the telling of stories through “strategic compression”, it is what people who do television are often taught – that TV is a small screen medium, and people need closeups in order for you to get the message. So our most popular medium become part of the problem rather than part of the solution because of how things have been set up since the beginning of the medium. Now it’s as fixed in concrete as laugh tracks.

      1. I have a very high soapbox on this subject, but I’ll stay down here on the ground and save you the suffering… We all know what we know. That’s a huge problem.

  2. Love this sentence: “People who see history through a pinpoint hole make me jittery.” There’s a lot of that going around.

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