A student once asked me why it's important to study history in school. I know the canned response -- to learn from our mistakes, to improve for the future, to pay homage to our ancestors and their struggles -- so I dished it. Apparently, he knew the drill, as well:

"If history repeats itself, why do we have to study it? It's going to happen again, anyway."

You pose quite an existential question, kid. Your question no longer becomes the whiny "why do we have to learn this?" but rather, "is time but a repeating circle? to what extent do we as mere mortals control our destinies, and is that a paradoxical question in it of itself?"

And my favorite,

"In Alaska, when the sun doesn't go down, how do they tell time?"

= = =

Alright, kid, my turn to speak: Clocks and history books are humanmade objects, does that make time and history humanmade concepts?

No, I argue that time, history, and our ability to keep track of both is what makes us human. We learn, we progress, we make connections, we remember. Our histories and our time are what make our lives so valuable to us. If loved ones, simple joys, and monumental successes define living, then it is our acknowledgment of our limited amount of time to spend with those people that allows us to separate the loved ones from the insignificant. It is in our hours of happiness bordered by mundane and melancholic moments in such a way that the former becomes defined by the two latter (and perhaps vice versa) that we reach peaks of self-actualization. It is in our moments of most refined glory that we realize the importance of patience and endurance throughout the inevitable passing of time.

It's my history with you that lets me know that you are important to me. It's my yesterday with you that intimates to my tomorrow with you. It's my history, my forefathers' and foremothers' histories, and your history that tells me that our lives is an unfolding journey, well worth the walk.

Hey, kid, let's work out a trade -- my time for your story and my story for your time. We can learn a lot from each other.

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