The Magic of Writing
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I have started to study Egyptology.
I've read lots of books about pre-dynastic Egypt now. Lots of potsherds, stone tools, pit graves, remains of buildings, storage places and fireplaces... Sea shells from distant shores, mysterious boats hacked into the rocks of the Eastern Desert, beautifully depicted animals on the Western one.
And the archaeologists and historians try to put together the story of the ancient Egyptians from these fragments of information. What does a pot sherd tell us? How about the way they buried their dead? What did they believe in? What were their values?
A lot of guesswork there - until, like magic, writing appears around 3100 BC.
And suddenly a whole civilization opens to us - through written word. (Well, pictures, to be more precise, but those hieroglyphs were real writing)
When the skill to read hieroglyphs died around AD 400, a whole civilization was lost to us. All that people saw were mysterious pictures on temple walls which they knew were telling something, but no one knew what. Until in 1822, Jean-Francois Champollion, after twenty years of obsessive work, finally cracked the code and the history of ancient Egypt came back to life again.
This really stopped me to wonder about writing. Just imagine what would life be like if we could not write. Our stories would pass on orally, but lots of information would be lost permanently in history.
Writing is a way for us to connect to our ancestors in the past - to learn about who they were, and where we ultimately came from. It strenghtens our feeling of belonging. It ties our identity to a certain group of people, builds our self esteem.
This is why conquerors of smaller cultures have tried to restrict the use of the original language, not allowing for it to be used in schools even. They knew that if the language of a nation dies, so does its unique identity.
The Egyptians believed that writing was magical - it could bring things to life again. Writings on tomb entrances asked the visitor to read out loud the name of the dead so they might live on.
And I think they were right. Writing IS magical. It connects people to their past, present and future. Learning to read and write opens a realm of wonders.
We can search for information ourselves, we can express our thoughts and ideas. We can connect to people all over the world - in our present day as well as in our future. Through reading we can experience adventures we could never physically participate. We can find solutions to problems. We can give advice to others.
Before the skill of writing two people had to meet for a story to pass on, to prevent it from dying.
With writing it became possible to tell a story to a reader the story teller might never even meet. Just like me and my story website.
I'll probably never meet my readers in person, yet I know there are so many of you. (I am really amazed at the amount of unique visitors to my site each month - thousands and thousands!)
If anyone asked me what was the most important invention of human kind (other than the skills necessary for basic survival), I'd have to say it is writing.
For my part I try to keep the magic of writing stories alive on my website (and my new
). I wish you do so too. Write a diary, an article, a story,
Keep your language and unique culture alive through the ages in your writings. It is your greeting to the generations to come.
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Leena Pekkalainen is a writer who specializes in inspirational short stories that uplift the reader. You will find her stories and positive attitude tips at http://www.inspirational-short-stories.com
This article about the magic of writing was first published in Inspirational Short Stories newsletter.
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