Up In The Sky

Our youngest daughter and I waited in our car for her school to open. Typical start, typical day. Then we looked out and saw this. Miles above us, a passenger jet carried folks to their next destination as Ava and I sat in our car.

But it’s the contrail that captivated me.

A thought dawned and my photo, shot through a smudgy windshield, resulted.

Here is my thought: the trailing white ribbon breaks down minute by minute and, within a half-hour or so, will disappear entirely.

When the contrail disappears, no evidence will remain in the sky of the jet’s existence. It will be as if it never existed and never happened. Nothingness will remain. Vanished and empty, not even a void is there.

It passed. It is past. It is the past, like all of the past. For unless some material or evidence or proof can be sensed, nothing is left to use in recalling or reconstructing. History—that slice of the past which is remembered for some reason—is impossible. As an occurrence, the past is everything before now and, now, is gone.

How much of our lives, I wonder, is the equivalent of that contrail in this morning’s sky.

Yet William Faulkner, the great writer, asserted that the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote something similar a few years before.

They’re right, in my view. The effects of the past are everywhere even if we don’t know how to remember it and don’t make it into history. The power of the past is clear in that it lingers, echoes, has traces, leaves marks and imprints, and evolves into something else.

The past—ever-present. The past—quickly-gone. Both things are true.

Well, it’s on to the rest of my day. The weather predictions say snow is coming. But it won’t last. Thanks for spending time with me.


  1. Definitely food for thought. I worry that with the current rage of Political correctness and “inclusiveness” History is being re written and not well. Project 1619 scares me as if the young are indoctrinated – our society my be lost.

  2. Eileen Hightower says

    History is my favorite subject, and yes, with each minute gone, it will never be retrieved. However, in my love of history, I have come to cherish letters, cards, and books about the History of the United States. I love reading letter from the Civil War and WW II, in fact all of history I love. This is why we pass down stories of our families and read their letters. It is a snapshot of time which will never be retrieved, but the stories remain and hopefully something is learned of how they lived, what they believed, the hardships which were overcome. May we as a nation never forget where this great experiment of the Republic of the USA came from and may we pass down our memories and encourage the reading of good books, especially the Bible, to educate ourselves. Allowing young people to have their cell phones and involve them in trivialities is not teaching them about our country. Reading, reading, reading is part of the key to remembering our past. As Winston Churchill once said. “The farther back you look, the farther you can see.”

  3. Douglas E Fauber says

    YES, I agree with you.

Speak Your Mind