Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blogging 120 Years Ago

I'm nearly finished with the book "My Antonia" by Willa Cather. It is a novel (but very true to life) set on the Nebraska frontier about 120 years ago. I love reading about other times in history, imagining what my life would have been like if I had lived then.

So, what would I have been doing back then instead of blogging? Blogging today fulfills part of that "need" in me to write, journal, create something beautiful, record photos, and interact with others.

I'm sure I would have tried to keep a journal which, despite my blogging, I still do. It would have been written in only once place though, and with beautiful copperplate-type handwriting with pen and ink.

I would probably have developed sketching to take the place of the camera I use now. One has to wonder how many more people would have artistic talent if they were forced into using and developing it. I would be compelled to record the various wildflowers found on the prairie, the outline of our house, or the shocks of wheat at harvest.

Interaction with other people would be in person or by letter. I would be writing many more letters than I do now. On the other hand, my circle of friends and acquaintances would be so much smaller that perhaps I wouldn't be writing as much as I imagine. However, the letters I would have written would be long.

Perhaps all this imagining is unrealistic. Perhaps if I had lived on the frontier I would have been so busy with all the work it took just to survive that I never would have had the liesure to sit down and journal, sketch, or write. One never knows, but it is fun to think about.


Catherine said...

Last night my aunt was reading me a letter she found in some of my great-aunt's family papers. The letter had been written by a lady who had cared for one of my family members during the Civil War when he was wounded. The letter was long, descriptive, elegantly worded, and just delightful to listen to (also composed with lovely penmanship and no mistakes!), even though it was just a short note to a family she didn't even know to assure them of how highly she and her family esteemed the wounded soldier. I think that skill in letter writing probably answered a lot of creative needs for people back then, and was a way to share thoughts and insights the way we do (much less elegantly in my case, I'm afraid) now by blogging.

I love thinking about how life would have been in former times, I'm glad you do too!

Heather said...

We make time for the things we enjoy, don't we? I'm glad you share your thoughts through blogging!

Your last paragraph reminds me of something I sometimes forget in this industrialized age - many of our frontier settling ancestors, while extremely hard working, knew well how to rest from work, celebrate life and create beauty - things we often don't think we have time for now. They also made great use of the winter months when outside responsibilities were diminished, and they usually stayed home except for church and social gatherings - which often centered around work, caring for those in need or were celebrations of the ending of hard work.

I think you would have written many a lovely letter with your fountain pen and ink if God had chosen another time for you!