In the process of our lives, certain things create emotional ties with us and keep memories alive. There’s probably at least one object we call our own that is multiple generations away from its origin and, even if it's not being used in line with its intended purpose, the nostalgia for its original function still remains in it.
What's more is that throughout that object’s continuation it could've represented and still represents a lot about the history of an era, an idea, a culture, a country, etc. By tracking the lifetime of the object within the story of its existence, we can unearth and analyze its similarity and uniqueness to other objects in its class. We can trace the history of when, where, how, and why that object came to our lives, or to its current owner's life.
With this in mind, consider this writing pitch where the pretext will be one object and the idea is to make a retrospective of it. Meaning, you are to reconstruct one object’s history through memory and the information you can find about it! That is, you are going to trace its story and how that one object you choose to write about has acquired significance and meaning for certain persons; perhaps one of them being you.
Maybe the object you choose to write about is a book, a chair, a chessboard, a clock, a coin, an LP, a musical instrument, a pair of earrings, a pair of shoes, a pen, a pendant, a photograph, a piece of clothing, a sewing machine,a toy, or a watch.
Here are five suggested ways to think about the objects in your life, or someone else’s life:
1. Objects tell their own stories.
2. Objects connect people.
3. Objects mean many things.
4. Objects capture moments.
5. Objects reflect changes.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about the object which process you will trace.
1. What is it?
2. When was it made?
3. Where is it from?
4. What is it made of?
5. Who made it?
6. How was it used? How is it used now?
7. When and how did you get it? or When and how did the person that owns it get it?
8. Why was it passed along?
9. Where do you think it'll go next? When? How? Why?
If you ask the right questions and do the right research, you begin to understand the role the object played and continues to play in people’s lives, the meanings it held for different individuals and communities, the way it reflected the knowledge and tastes of a particular era, and what it represents to you or its current owner.
For ideas, check out each video below to see film clips about the process in time of one object:
In short, you will see the object you choose to write about as a passageway into history. Through a single object, you can connect to different moments in time, persons' lives, and sets of values and beliefs, all part of our process in time.
Feature image via YouTube/Moviclips.