For The Time Being

The big news in Richmond has been the discovery of a time capsule, two actually, as the Robert E. Lee pedestal was being dismantled. Based on historical documentation a capsule was rumored to be in the northeast corner of the pedestal, but after weeks of searching in that area, nothing was found. Finally, on December 17th a box was discovered ten feet up in the pedestal. With much fanfare, it was whisked away to be opened, and the contents were examined with some disappointment. A few books, a coin, a photo, and a pamphlet from 1888 describing a waterworks project on the south side of Richmond. Kind of a letdown, historically speaking.
 
On Monday the 27th, a second time capsule was found and this one checked all the boxes for the real thing; copper box, the right dimensions, and it was in the northeast corner as it should be, just deeper down. The opening was live-streamed after they had the bomb squad give the ok (I kid you not), and the contents are currently being dried and sorted. I love historical artifacts, so I’m sure the result will be fascinating. 
 
But let’s get back to the really interesting time capsule, the first one. One of the books inside was “The Huguenot Lovers: A Tale of the Old Dominion.” Kind of a racy pick for a 19th-century time capsule. In a soggy envelope was the faded picture of a mustached man, with James Netherwood written on the back. Not exactly a name from the history books. It turns out that “Huguenot Lovers” was written by Collinson Pierrepont Edwards Burgwyn who coincidentally is the Collinson Pierrepont Edwards Burgwyn who was the engineer who designed the roundabout surrounding the statue, The mysterious mustached Mr. Netherwood. He was the master stonemason who built the monument. The cheeky duo put their remembrances in a box and secretly sealed it up for future generations to find. A little self-centered? Maybe. But spend five minutes on Instagram and they come across as downright modest. 
 
Ever since I was little, I loved the concept of a time capsule. Discovering one from the past, or making one for the future has the same excitement for me. What will people care about in the future, what do people care about from the past? As we head into another new year, it’s something to ponder. In a way we are filling our time capsules as we tick off the days, weeks, and months, so what do we want to put in that box? Something formal from our personal history–our resume, golf scores, most liked social media post of 2022? Or something that is part of ourselves–deeply personal and true to us at our most vulnerable? Hard call. After all, when my life gets reviewed, I won’t be the one reviewing it. But, if anyone ever goes searching for my time capsule, I hope they find two. One they expect, and another with some happy surprises.
 
Here’s wishing all of you a warm, safe, and memorable 2022.
 

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