History is all around us. Most of us are vaguely aware of that fact. We all have the sense of where we stand age-wise relative to our environment, as it is easy to discern when a place is before our time. They have no personal significance and feel almost alien. Why should you care? These places become the backdrops for our day-to-day lives and nothing more.
What we do not realize is these places are relevant and shape our lives in subtle ways we do not know. Every place has a story and these stories can influence the way we see the world, and our place in it. They connect us and give us meaning. They shape our perception of home and self. Knowledge is the key to understanding; understanding, the key to acceptance and hope. The abandoned warehouse on the corner, the old church down the street, the once mighty skyscraper that is now only an empty shell—these places matter. They have lived lives of their own and set the stage for countless stories. When we begin to learn those stories, and those of the people that interacted with them, these places can embody a whole new significance. When we open our eyes to the hidden layers of beauty in our surroundings, it gives us a brand new appreciation of who and where we are. A tree may be beautiful with all its leaves in delicate branches, but it is nothing without its roots.
Time connects us and separates us. Like a web, it touches everything. It is the framework that we build our life experiences around and in which we understand reality. Every moment that ever was and ever will be falls prey to the ravages of its embrace. But we are creatures of the now and the what will be, and so easily forget what was. How many souls walked along this sidewalk? How many generations depended on this river for sustenance? Too easily we forget the nearly endless stretch of time that paved the way for us by countless individuals, let alone the structures that remain, that we see and pass every day but barely take notice. We are taught to not dwell on the past but focus on the present and future. But what we do not realize is in many ways the past can shape our understanding of ourselves and our place in this world. For better or worse, we all have arrived at this moment by way of countless events large and small, like innumerable waves in the ocean that began millions of years ago as a single raindrop.
About The Author
Ben Morales is a photographer and art director born and raised in Ohio, and a graduate of Bowling Green State University. Ben’s photography strives to unveil the beauty and meaning in the world around us by capturing the natural and manmade environments that most people take for granted. With a love of history and a curiosity for forgotten and overlooked places, he seeks to connect us with the past and challenge our perceptions of the world we inherited. With a desire to inform and delight, Ben’s work invites us to see things differently, not only how they once were, but also reimagining what they could be.