Portrait of an Elderly woman. She is smiling and looks lost in beautiful memories. Elders are the living memory of the world
Remembering Credit Juan Castillo

Elders, the living memory of the world

We have no past when we reach a new land, our life out there flows at an unchanging rhythm, a constant present time. Places are like people, we need to know their past in order to understand their present.

Their words unlock the past and unveil the meaning of our “now”—where we find ourselves today. Elders are the living memory of the world. We travel, we survive our daily grind, we have no past when we reach a new land, our life out there flows at an unchanging rhythm, a constant present time. Places are like people, we need to know their past in order to understand their present. Our Elders and a comprehension of their tales, are the way for us to achieve a firmer understanding of our own present.

Sitting, talking, at their side, quietly, listening to their words, learning, is a way to absorb through our skin the past of a land and what made it into what it is today. We construct a bridge,  becoming part of a story of a years past. We join the flow of a culture and as we immerse ourselves, naturally become a part of it. Language can be  a barrier if we permit it— however this can be  so easily overcome if we accept the simple truth that all of us are human beings, and there are so many different ways to speak without words.

The Elders are the living memory of the world, they are the guardians of our own lost history, the silent intimate history. Us, the common people, are made of emotions and personal experiences. At the end of our days, in the books we have created, we read  about the ‘movers and shakers’, the presidents and kings who lead the big “human show”: dictators and ‘big-wigs’, our constant wars, the traders and global economy have shaped our world that we inherit. Our reading guides us through history as experience by our Elders and we learn whether it is better to fight the past, or just take our place in the world, as we find it.

In those countries where technology has drastically and dramatically changed the way we interact and exchange our life experiences and information, people are experiencing a dramatic perceived “speeding up” of their lives on a constant and frequently brutal basis. The living memory of the Elders, past down to us, provides the opportunity to slow down, to deliberate & to compare & decide if the future we are charging towards, is the one we really seek.

Elders are the living memory of the world, a treasure of wisdom and experiences, a clear insight for us into the turbulence of earlier years as experienced by our own people of an earlier and disappearing generation. This act of quiet contemplation, provides a deeper and more meaningful insight into life and it’s challenges for those who are prepared to dig deep into the life experiences of our Elders.

Elders are the living memory of the world, a treasure we should struggle to understand & preserve as a way to preserve our memory, because a society with no memory is a society without identity, and with questionable purpose.

We have selected some digital portraits from around the world, as our homage to the Elders of all cultures

Leandro Perez Zambullo

A bird took my father, and my mother married a fish. I was born one leg in the air, one in the water was. That day sea and wind pulled so hard, that in two broke my chest. My heart fell in a well, and when I want to know who I am, I have to drink a lot.
I am Leandro, content writer at OTW.

11 comments

  • I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of this piece. Unfortunately, I never knew my grandparents, but love hearing stories about them from my other relatives. They are indeed the living memory of the world, and should be cherished as such.

  • I really enjoyed look at the portraits of the Elders. I’m almost as old as some of them myself! I think there is a lot to be said for respect for elderly, and many developing countries seem to have more active place and dialogue for their Elders within their communities. In the West, the old are less accessible, and almost a social taboo.

  • What a gorgeous post. Our society is so obsessed with youth, we’re missing out on the amazing wisdom that could be passed down by those that came before us. Other countries definitely seem to recognize that better than us – and they benefit greatly by it.

  • I love this piece. I love the message. I love the photos. And to think I am 70 and may already be considered an elder, soon if not yet. Yes, listen to me as I have a lot to say, a lot of good.

  • I love how heartwarming this post is. And i couldn’t agree with you – although it is a sad reality that our elders are often neglected. This is a wakeup call to treasure them and to be thankful for what they’ve done, I have lost all of my grandparents so this hit me so hard.

  • Beautifully written and the profiles of the elder are beautifully captured! I love to discuss with elder and hear their life stories. Sometime the stories seems to come from another world as they are so different but infact they are just from another time, the past. For an exemple, an old Swiss ladie told me that not very “long time ago” she and her siblings use to ski to school in winter! Imagine.

  • This post is beautifully written, and I agree that elders are a living history of the world. We can learn so much from them if we’d only listen. Your pictures are lovely. The lady from Cuba made me smile the widest.

  • Ahhh this post is stunning!! I love sitting and listening to stories from my grandparents. They are full of such wisdom. And your style of writing is beautiful- almost poetic. LOVED this line-Elders are the living memory of the world, a treasure of wisdom and experiences, a clear insight for us into the turbulence of earlier years as experienced by our own people of an earlier and disappearing generation.

  • That is a lovely article. Cannot day how true it is that they are often neglected . We are the youth who travel ..Even a thought about them is indeed a great thing.. appreciate the time and effort you have taken in remembering our elderly …

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