So I'm up at 2:40 on a Monday morning because I am sick and can't sleep. It's loads and loads of fun, especially the part about being sick. It has been said often (a little too often, if you ask me) that a little bit of suffering is good for the soul. (Quick side note: ever notice how the people saying that for the most part aren't the ones who are suffering. But that is a story for a different time) Anyway, the point being is I having been watching this mini-series The Pillars of the Earth, about the building of a cathedral in medieval England. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It ended with this wonderful shot of the cathedral as it stands today, looking almost exactly as it "looks" being built in the 12th Century. It was an incredibly moving piece of work.
For me, one of the most powerful experiences there is in the world is to stand inside a structure that was built hundreds or even thousands of years ago and think about the people who built it. It can truly boggle the mind if you let it. Consider, for example, this cathedral. It was built over the course of several lifetimes almost 900 years ago. The people who began its construction did not live to see its completion and those who did see it finished would never know for how long it would stand. And yet it remains with us today, as a powerful reminder of the strength and endurance of mankind's works. Reflecting about what must have been going through those workers minds as they labored on a building they themselves would never see completed, I a struck by their dedication. I can not imagine spending one's entire adult life laboring on one project, only to die with it still incomplete. With that mindset, looking at these magnificent buildings brings with it a whole new sense of power. You are viewing a person's life work. This is what they spent their time on, what they left behind for us. It leaves me with a feeling of something close to duty or responsibility. That we as a collective people have a duty to those who came before us to preserve their works, so that their legacy may live on and so their creations may continue to shine. Imagine building something like a cathedral in 1150. I can't.
In the end, thinking about this serves to make me feel better and worse. Worse because it makes my mild suffering pale by comparison, and no one ever likes to be outdone, and better because it reminds be of what human beings can accomplish. But in the end, I'm still a bit sick, a bit tired, and it's now 2:55 a.m., so maybe now I will try to get some sleep.