Saturday, June 13, 2015

Writing Is Your Time Capsule

When I was nine and the country was turning 200 in 1976, my elementary school (PS199 in Brooklyn) buried a time capsule.  At the time I thought waiting 25 years for them to dig it up would be an eternity.  I’m still waiting.

Back around 2000 or so, I called my former school and inquired about the time capsule.  Remarkably, no one knew anything about it.  Anyone connected to it was gone or didn’t recall.  It’s as if it never happened.  Yet it did happen and there’s buried treasure from my childhood and another era resting somewhere in the basement of a building that’s been open since 1929.

I can’t remember what was placed into the capsule, but I do have images of seeing a coin and a newspaper placed in it.  What should go into such a box?  Do we know now what will be reflected upon as being important when looking at today’s artifacts?

It’s nearly 40 years since a piece of my world was sealed away with the promise of seeing light for future generations to witness.  I haven’t tried again to rescue this mysterious time capsule, though I feel tempted to launch an expedition and uncover my youth in a box.

I can’t imagine what I would stick into a time capsule today.  Do you include things that are commonplace or important?  How do we know which things will still be around decades later?  One troubling factor is technology.

When I was a kid, everything was physical.  We could bury a toy, book, coin, newspaper, glass, etc.  Now we would bury a smartphone, but how do we preserve what it did in 2015 when looking at it in 2040?  We’ve moved from preserving a permanent item to a fleeting one.  It’s like trying to preserve a memory or a feeling – they stay with us and then get distored, forgotten, and become irretrievable.

Writing is my time capsule.  I look back on what I wrote and recall what life was like at the time I penned it.  I’m a living time capsule. We all are – and our books capture not only an idea, experience, or issue, but a moment in life and this world.

There are clear lines of demarcation in our lives.  There’s pre 9-11 and post.  There’s single life and then married.  There’s childhood and then adulthood.  There’s life and then tragedy and then other.  Time capsules will show us the lines our world crosses that can’t be taken back.  When time capsules unearth Apple Watches, smartphones, and video game consoles we’ll understand the world keeps changing, sometimes in ways no one understands any longer.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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