Ephemera are the things we use in life and then usually throw away. They aren’t made to endure. They might include newspapers, old letters, cereal boxes, posters, playing cards, common utensils, dishes, lunch boxes, photos, inexpensive furniture, or even children’s toys.
I believe that these types of items, when we can find them from previous eras, are much more interesting and useful in understanding the people of a period, than the staid statues, old buildings and generally sterile books that try to recreate the times.
I suggest that people keep this in mind when they sort through the stuff in their attic or basement. Often, people will find old letters, photos and other items that had special meaning to a previous generation. Millennials seem to be a generation of non-savers. Everything important is in their smart phones or in the cloud, and they may have a tendency to discard these things. As they get older, however, they may realize that they have thrown away the very things that will help them to better understand their lives. These tangible connections to their ancestors are often useful guideposts to who they are.
When we each look in the mirror, we see a collective piece of our ancestors. Understanding a little bit about these pieces, can help all of us to find our way on our own life’s journey.
I am including below a poem, Reflections from In the Cat’s Eye ( Snap Screen Press, 2009). It is about tangible connections and, also, our own quest for a measure of immortality.
Glenn K. Currie
I bought the mirror for my daughter,
A month after she was born.
Now it leaned against the eaves,
In a far corner of the attic,
No longer used for capturing images.
Life’s blades had chipped away at the edges,
And a century of dust
Cast a veil across the glass.
I watched the young woman gaze into it,
Eyes bright and full of hope,
Smiling through the haze.
I smiled back,
From behind the glass,
And blew her a kiss.