“What do you see?”
Cindy’s mom offered her a photo as the two sat next to each other over breakfast on a lovely summer morning. The daughter was prepared for the game and eagerly grasp the photo to see what gem from the old world she was going to get to see.
The contrast between her summer heat and the cold and snow in the picture was the first thing to jump out at her, but Cindy quickly discarded the idea of responding about that. With her mom there was always something deeper to look for, some lesson to be learned. The next thing that caught her attention was the dangerousness of driving automobiles in such conditions and how foolish they had been as a species at that time. But, they had already discussed pride on a different morning and Cindy suspected that the risks humans used to take was closely aligned to their pride.
That was probably the trick with this photo, Cindy thought. Her mom wanted was testing her to see if she would jump to mention the cars and the slick and icy roads or if she would delve further and see what else was going on. And then she spotted something so ridiculous she blurted it out, slapping her hand across her mouth immediately after, but too late, of course, to keep the words from reaching her mother.
“Are those snowflakes attached to that light pole?”
Ignoring her daughter’s embarrasement for having spoken without thinking it through, Cindy’s mom urged her to continue on that train of thought, “And why is that so surprising?”
Removing her hand from her mouth, Cindy returned her attention the picture. She realized she had lucked into the the right answer and she needed to study the photograph to determine what exactly about the snowflakes had drawn her attention. “Why would they hang snowflakes like that in a place that gets covered with snow and ice every winter already? It’s not like they need a reminder of what they look like. From the histories we’ve studied it sure seems like living in those conditions was a lot of work. Placing the snowflakes there feels like a slap in the face.”
Cindy glanced into her mother’s face and saw approval there. She had done well and allowed herself a smile. But, the smile dropped to a frown as her curiosity forced her to ask, “So, why would the old generations have done that?”
“The snowflakes were part of the decorations that went with the holiday known as Christmas, and for our purposes today they represent the truth that over time all pageantry and traditions will trend toward the absurd. As the people who first began to honor something with a celebration die off, the original ideas behind the why, behind the need of that celebration will distort as their children take over, and on and on until eventually people find themselves doing things that no longer make sense, or are offensive, or are ridiculous, simply because ‘it is tradition.'”
Cindy nodded as she processed her mom’s response and then asked, “Is that why we no longer have holidays of any kind?”
“That’s one of the reasons, yes. This picture was taken in a time of excess, near the height of humans reign and power on this planet. As the years grew harder and we diminished, we had to work harder to survive until we no longer had time for such silliness.”
“Will we ever return to a time of excess?”
“Everything is cyclical. What we had once, we will have again. But, with all that we now know about the world, would you really want to return to a time like that? Would you really want to live in a world that behaved so poorly?”
Cindy studied the picture one last time. “No,” she responded firmly and then handed it back to her mom to file away with the rest of the photographs.
What do you see?
Write it, link it to this week’s Once More With Feeling challenge, and then post it so we can all read your thoughts and ideas inspired by the photograph provided.