“Although history lacks the clear rules that make other mental activities like logic, poetry, or mathematics so enjoyable, it has its own unambiguous structure established by the irreversible sequence of events in time. Observing, recording, and preserving the memory of both the large and small events of life is one of the oldest and most satisfying ways to bring order to consciousness.
In a sense, every individual is a historian of his or her own personal existence. Because of their emotional power, memories of childhood become crucial elements in determining the kind of adults we grow up to be, and how our minds will function. . . . The task of making sense of the past again becomes important in old age. Erik Erikson has held that the last stage of the human life cycle involves the task of achieving ‘integrity,’ or bringing together what one has accomplished and what one has failed to accomplish in the course of one’s life into a meaningful story that can be claimed as one’s own.
Remembering the past is not only instrumental in the creation and preservation of a personal identity, but it can also be a very enjoyable process. People keep diaries, save snapshots, make slides and home movies, and collect souvenirs and mementos to store in their houses to build what is in effect a museum of the life of the family.
Having a record of the past can make a great contribution to the quality of life. It frees us from the tyranny of the present, and makes it possible for consciousness to revisit former times. It makes it possible to select and preserve in memory events that are especially pleasant and meaningful, and so to ‘create’ a past that will help us deal with the future.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as having been amateur historians all along. But once we become aware that ordering events in time is a necessary part of being a conscious being, and moreover, that it is an enjoyable task, then we can do a much better job of it.” (132-133)
There are several ways to practice turning history into a flow experience including: keeping a journal, writing a family chronicle, focusing on a particular aspect of the past and then researching and collecting relevant books and memorabilia, learning the history of the community in which you live by visiting museums, reading books, and joining historical associations, or even researching as far back as possible into the ethnic group you belong to.
“All too often we are inclined to view history as a dreary list of dates to memorize . . . Knowledge that is seen to be controlled from the outside is acquired with reluctance, and it brings no joy. But as soon as a person decides which aspects of the past are compelling, and decides to pursue them, focusing on the sources and the details that are personally meaningful, and recording findings in a personal style, then learning history can become a full-fledge flow experience.” - 134
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