Words Left Behind

[This just came to me as I was doing some of my work as a research assistant, copying records of temple inscriptions from India and in thinking about some interesting graffiti I saw during my recent train trip. It's very rough, but possibly something of interest to someday be taken somewhere.]

Words. Symbols. Marks of our presence, our passing. Pictographs, hieroglyphs, doodles, graffiti. Inscribed messages, or writing in the sand. What do we leave behind?

Staring at the wall before him, the puzzle that awaited his attention blurred as he pondered such questions. Be it ancient or done only moments before, it seemed to be a human need to leave records in some way. Some were more informative than others. Some were easier to understand, some more cryptic. Some lasted the test of time and others were obliterated nearly immediately.

His fingers lightly traced the inscribed characters and he frowned just a little.

Why? Why this record? Why was it important enough to be preserved in such a way? Equally, why were such important documents of his own time so negligibaly preserved. Paper was hardly a stable medium. It did not last nearly as long as stone or metal.

Don't even get him started on the internet and the odd mix of indelibility and obliteration that it encompassed. Some bits existing long past their intended expiration, others gone when you want to find them.

And yet people continue. Bathroom stalls are covered with ink and scratches, from initials marking a relationship to simple announcements of presence or declarations of hatred. Occasionally even the insightful discussion.

Rock painting is not a lost artform. Certainly the paints are different, coming so often from a can now instead of plants or rocks or blood, but if you travel you can still see human prints left on nature like a cry to the world that we are here and we will overcome. At least until the rain and wind wash it away.

Records that we were here.

What will they say of what we have left behind years from now?

The End

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