I didn’t intend to fall in love with history. As a matter of fact, I spent several years adamant that I never would. History is boring, right? Dates and names, blurry black-and-white photos, old white-haired men and boring legal documents written on yellowed paper. I had no time for all of that. I preferred stories. Exciting adventures, vivid landscapes, extraordinary heroes. I had no time for the mundane.
It was a gradual shift, for me. First, I went from pure fiction to reading about different mythologies. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Celtic, etc. There was still no apparent grounding in reality, so I was still safe in declaring history to be my least favorite subject. Then, I found myself wondering, Where did these stories come from, anyway? While their basis in fact is generally agreed to be minimal, I found that they offered a unique perspective on the mindset of the peoples and cultures from which they came. I became fascinated with the people more than the myths, and without even realizing it, I was slipping closer and closer to that dreaded subject. The next thing I knew, I had read nearly every book on Ancient Rome I could find at my library. But still, I resisted history. Only Rome, I maintained. Just the classics. Well, the classics and . . . maybe a little about this place over here. And maybe those people over there. And, and, and . . . okay, but I was still only interested in ancient history. Until I wasn’t. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to tell people history was my favorite subject, not least favorite. And from there, I was hooked. Instead of going straight to the fantasy or mystery section at the library, I always made a beeline for the history section.
I would still say that ancient history is my favorite (and I still have a soft spot for mythologies.) Roman history will always have a special place in my heart. But when I finally let go of all those self-imposed limitations, a whole new world was opened up to me, and I discovered I had a real passion for it. Because, though my younger self never would have believed it, history is the root of every story ever told. And like every story, if told poorly, of course history is boring. Like any story, it’s so much more than simply words on a page. Names and dates must become people. They must be made real, one must know them as people who feel love, who feel fear, anger, joy. You must tell why they did what they did, instead of simply what they did. History is so much more than blurry photos and boring documents.
I won’t pretend to be any kind of expert. I’m no history professor, and I’m not here to impress anyone. I simply want to share the stories that I rarely hear told. History repeats itself more often than any of us realize, and far more often than we realize, today is simply yesterday repeated with a different cast of characters. To understand the past is to know the future, and tomorrow may really just be the dawn of yesterday.