5,000 Years of Word-Making and Word-Makers

Posted on February 23, 2021


The oldest rock art is believed to be about 44,000 years old. The oldest written words are about 5500 years old. This means that, for about 38,500 years, people could just happily just look at pictures. This didn’t demand much from them, aside from occasional arguments about whether the animal represented looked more like a mastodon or an orox.

When writing appeared, a lot of people were annoyed. Writing meant that they had to learn to read. People didn’t have much time to learn to read because they generally spent all of their waking hours working, then died of famine or rotten teeth by the time they were 30. Worse, they had to read stuff without pictures to go along with the words. People complained that reading was boring and took too much effort. The words were about this king or that king, this battle or that battle, this law or that law. Words little to do with people’s lives. Wile books eventually did catch on, at no time in the last 5500 years did many people give a thought to the people who were producing the actual words that folks read.

It’s always been a mystery to Life in the Boomer Lane why almost all of those first humans were content to either run from the animals they saw, kill the animals they saw or eat the animals they saw. But a handful wanted to represent those animals on cave walls. That was pretty shocking stuff at the time. Then, when words were created, almost all humans who learned to read wanted to read the words on stone or papyrus or later, on paper. But a handful wanted to create those words.

Why were these handfuls of people not happy with being the recipients of other’s handiwork? Why did they feel the need to create themselves? And what is it in these people that has a need to create and to share that creation with others? LBL doesn’t know. But, for whatever reason, she has always been one of them. From the first moment she realized that there were pictures in books, she wanted to create pictures. And from the first moment that she realized that the little black squiggles in these books were things called words, she wanted to write words. Both the pictures and the words kept tumbling out. They would see her through the highs and the lows of a remarkably common life. They would give that life an uncommonness that she craved.

Throughout her school years and her professional years and her baby-making and baby-raising years, the art and the words were background to Life. Now, the babies are off making and raising their own babies and the profession of many decades has just ended. Now, the art-making and the word-making have stepped forward to become the Life. Now, while so many people her age spend their time looking back, LBL is filled with gratitude about spending time looking at what is yet to be created.

There are others like her, other people who have found that the true meaning of ageless is that, as the road becomes shorter, it also becomes one of our own making. Until now, we have dutifully followed the signposts of life and there has been great meaning and great joy in that. But now, there are no signposts, other than the ones we create. There are no directions other than the ones we choose. It is a time when we have the gift of designing exactly who and what we choose to be. The thought is enough to take one’s breath away in both fear and anticipation.

LBL’s next blog post will be about one such woman, who, in a lifetime filled with achievement, has created a path that allows other women to experience the power and the joy of word-making and in so doing, path-making. Stay tuned.

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