Its come to me more than a few times when asked about a thing I did before. Questions like:
why leave that behind?
did you dig up x, or y, or z?
it sounds sexy and romantic. Is it really?
and then there was…
did you ever meet <insert some famous name here>?
The problem with all of these questions for the occasional archeologist and anthropologist is that our knowledge of the thing is frozen in time. In other words, my real knowledge of the science of doing archeology ended the day I stopped doing it. I don’t think you can simply read thousands of books and still be one. You have to practice it. Anthropology is not some passive science. Its a “doing”.
One day when walking some hills over in Daly City, I stopped doing it and became another thing. Its dawned on me that all my stories pretty much stopped then and there and all I have are these past notions of a thing. Its also dawned on me that things that happen in the past are condemned to remain there no matter what dark arts you practice. You simply cannot make the past happen again.
So the stories, the rather unique feeling of doing it; the wonder of mornings spent wandering far hills with RWR are all gone except for the memory of them which is frozen at each of those moments. Archeology itself is not frozen. It goes on. Anthropologists find new truths and new ideas to test. Life will go on and the sciences become more and different.
For me though, those moments are packed into sets of memories which I can trot out when Arry or others ask me on occasion what it was like. Now its dawned on me that I can only answer what it was like. What its like now, how the sun feels now blasting its way through your bandana on a warm Barstow afternoon, what the mountains look like in a haze of storm clouds which are at the same elevation I am at, what the desert evening looks like without thousands of city lights to defame the sky. None of these things I know now. I can only apply the filter of the past. The grey colored photo filter that makes the things look crinkled and wrinkled. Lost in some aspect of space and time. Its a giving up and a release and a taking on.
So the questions however well meant have no answers. I am the occasional archeologist who does not know what its like now. My sum total of crossing those times now is only finding myself on the other side. I’m saddened sometimes by this but I also know that things happen in life and we find ourselves either enriched by things which broke us first or threatened by a thing which we thought of as good.
Ain’t it weird?
I have also thought a lot about this whole platform. This weblog platform of late. Sometimes I feel I connect with the things I write. Other times, they end up in some trash bin. Life is like a trash bin. You can move things to the bin but when you take them out later, you wonder why they changed so much and why the paper of your past is so crinkled up. You can travel thousands of miles. See distant shores. Find comfort,solace, danger in the steps you take. But sometimes, perhaps often, those long trips left more substantive things left undiscovered. Blogging is like that. I admit to only reading a few entries these days. I visit the sites. One is Jonas’ weblog. Jonas writes about the things that let you reach down, reach back, question, wonder, wander.
The occasional archeologist approves. Of course I don’t have the answers to your questions. I don’t even have more questions for your questions. This is my plight. My moments of reaching two roads and taking neither. I’ll always wonder on the day I walked that hill if I had taken another path. Life though cannot be spent puzzling over a decision made in some cabinet you carved out before. I must be on. There are more things to see.