Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with finding petroglyphs. They are all around, once you start searching for them. The sites I’ve gone to are surrounded by metro Tucson, and yet most people don’t even know they’re there. I wouldn’t have known it either, had not I started searching in multiple libraries, through guidebooks and maps, on the internet.
They’re interesting to me, a secret language or code that no one today understands. A piece of ancient history in my own backyard, not far away like Europe or Egypt.
They’re also comforting. What I struggle with on a daily basis is nothing that the Hohokam didn’t struggle with–eating, working, the heat, relationships–but it’s comforting to know that my personal struggles won’t live past my existence. My stress-causers are insignificant in the scope of time. They’re insignificant in the scope of a year, and non-existent in the scope of 100 years. I don’t feel the burden of the Hohokam’s struggles, or even my grandparent’s struggles, but I do feel the burden of my share of the universal human condition.
Thinking about relative significance, how is it that we don’t remember the name of a single person in this civilization that spanned a millennium? Why is it that we try so hard to make our names known and great throughout the earth? We spend so much energy and time building up the greatness of us–keeping up appearances, saving face, preening our reputation, pleasing people–to what end?
Humans enjoy building up and celebrating greatness. It’s why we create all forms of art, why we classify people according to accomplishments or looks, why we play games and enter contests, why we strive for success. I’m not saying that I’m above or beyond that, or even that I want to be above that. I’m saying that ultimately, it’s our posture towards the greatness that we celebrate that defines our life and what we as individuals and a civilization are remembered for. The greatness that we celebrate and that which we worship are one and the same.