In looking back I see the gap in my early education. The gap exists because my lack of interest and application. I have always had a general interest in history. While I had been content with knowledge of American and California history, this has been totally over shadowed by a book loaned to me by a person whom I would never have guessed had interests along these lines. His name is Bill. Bill was a large quite man with an almost surly disposition. We met while working together and developed a friendship over the years. We are both in retirement now and exchange e-mail on occasion as he lives 250 miles away. I am now 66 years old and he is in his eighties.
A few years ago during one of our e-discussions the subject of history came up. When asked I told him of my interest in history, he mentioned that he would send me a book that he has read three times in the past 15 years. He was impressed with its unbiased style. Moreover, his exact words were “you don’t realize how dumb you are until after you read this book”. Well, it took a couple of months of reading to finally put the book down. My limited knowledge of history had become greatly expanded and in turn created a need for more. The publication was entitled The Outlines of Medieval History, written in the late 1800s. It enlightened me and also was a real awakening. I now have a vacuum to fill.
This became the genesis for travel to the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence Italy. My near future plans include more visits to the old world.
About two years ago I visited Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. As I stood alone admiring the replica of the doors created by Lorenzo Ghilberti, for the Baptistery in medieval Florence, a young couple approached. As they neared the young man excitedly, but wrongly describing the man responsible for the piece of work. I excused myself for intruding then I corrected his mistake. He appreciated the information and sadly admitted that he had majored in European history in college and has since forgotten much of what he learned. I replied with equal sadness that I had only recently discovered the Renaissance at the age of sixty. He wisely responded that it was never too late.
It has been said that a book could change the readers life. This book certainly had that effect on me.
History is like pieces of a puzzle…the more you learn the more the whole picture begins to come together.
Knowing Bill has been interesting for he has had a gripping past. He has earned his place in American history, you see, he is a survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March
There is an adage that suggests that youth is for learning and age is for understanding. I have come to realize the wisdom of that adage. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.