Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 169 - Making a Time Capsule

I have never made a time capsule. While this is not an event that I originally planned on including in my “I have never...” year, an upcoming house project and the realization of the underlying creativity that could into the process made me think the experience would be one worth having. After all, a significant driver behind my “I have never...” year has been my persistent fear of the passage of time, and creating a time capsule, although simple, probably serves as one of the ways to best face the impermanence of time head on. The very concept requires locking away items that represent the present moment in time with full knowledge they will likely remain uncovered until someone unknown stumbles upon them well after our time has come and passed. As a result, I set aside time to put together a time capsule this evening to give ample time to put it together before I missed the opportunity to seal it away in a part of our home.

Sifting through coins
When I first sat down to put the time capsule together, I found it challenging to find a place to begin. In preparation for the event I had obtained a small lock box to serve as the capsule, but I struggled to narrow in on the things I thought would be best to include in the box. Eventually, I started by gathering a handful of modern items lying around our house, including today’s paper, a bag full of coins, some photos, and a few trinkets from recent events we attended over the past year. With the materials before me, I initially set to work sifting through the coins to locate some modern currency. Although the it proved impossible to locate any 2013 coins from the pile, I ended up with some coins unique to the last decade, which covered three currencies from earlier international trips in my “I have never...” year. The effort provided a good basis for a window into our time, but the small pile of coins made me realize the time capsule was really intended to tell my personal story in some capacity. As a result, I turned my attention to the small stack of photos in hopes I could find images that would help whoever found the capsule better understand who I was, who Rachael and I were, in this time.

The final spread
With newfound inspiration guiding me, I sifted through a series of photos resting on the table in front of me. Eventually, that effort resulted in me choosing several photos of the house, a photo of Rachael and I, photos of us with our dogs Buddy and Baxter, and a photograph of my Brother, my Father, and I cutting down a tree in the front of the house. Considering the time capsule would eventually be buried underneath a concrete stairway connected to our house, I thought it best to give whoever decided to tear the stairs out a view of what the home was when it was ours. A part of me hoped the photos would simply help express the love we have for the home and the way our love for one another and our boys filled the house in our time.

Writing a note
With the photos picked out, I gave them one last look before setting them aside to continue putting together the rest of the time capsule. As I did ,an unexpected, subtle feeling of heaviness struck me. Taking one last glance at the stack of photos, I realized the moments captured on those pieces of paper would someday only remain in the photographs themselves. I paused briefly, staring at the pile of items in front of me. Fully aware my fear of time was getting the best of me, I reassured myself that my effort to make the time capsule was, in a way, helping those memories live on in fragmented pieces, which was more than would have been possible without my efforts to preserve them in a time capsule. After some thought, I settled on that idea, which spurred me back to action and gave impetus to continue toward my goal of creating a time capsule.

Searching for songs to save on the thumb drive
With the photos stacked and ready to be placed in the time capsule, I grabbed a few more items of relevance in our time, including a used cell phone (sans battery), a piece of Oscar Mayer memorabilia from an event sponsored by the local plant, and one of the business cards I had created to help explain my “I have never...” idea to people. I quickly flipped the card over and wrote “Day 169 – Making a time capsule” on the back and proceeded to set it aside. With the newly added items, the bulk of my time capsule was coming together, but it still felt like something was missing from the mix. After thinking about it briefly, I decided I needed to include some modern music in the capsule, which set me to work tracking down a storage device suitable to store music until the time capsule ultimately fell into the hands of another person somewhere in the distant future.

Putting the capsule together
After a little searching, I located a thumb drive with a limited memory capacity that had utility limited enough that Rachael and I were willing to part with it. In response, I immediately set to work tracking down music that meant something to me and helped tell the story of our time. Eventually, I determined the best approach was to include some local music that meant something to me, which helped me narrow in on a few PHOX and Daniel and the Lion songs to save to the thumb drive. Additionally, I decided I would leave an audio message with the music that explained my reasoning for putting all of the items in the time capsule and my hopes that whoever finds it enjoys the relics of the past. Following a quick recording, I saved my message to the thumb drive, added a few electronic copies of documents related to the house, and removed the thumb drive form my computer.

One last look
Satisfied with the mass of items I collected for the time capsule, I took one last look over the various items as I prepared them for the box. I carefully folded the newspaper, making sure it included a local grocery store flyer, before placing it in the capsule. Continuing, I squeezed the cell phone along the edge of the box and carefully laid the remaining trinkets and the thumb drive in the remaining pocket of free space in the container. Placing the coins in the box, I watched as their weight guided them to the bottom of the box as they slipped past the items already contained therein. Finally, I carefully placed the stack of photos on the top of the stacked items and took one last look at my time capsule.

Moments away from completing my task, I slowly closed the lid of the box and locked the contents inside. After affixing the keys to the outside of the box with a dust tape label, I sat back and looked at my completed work. Realizing the moment prior was the last time anyone would see the items contained in the capsule until it was opened again, my mind returned to the concept of the fleeting nature of time. The possibility that the contents would not been seen by human eyes again until our time had passed left me with slight feeling of sadness as I placed the sealed container in its location to wait until it could be sealed away. However, I knew any time spent on fighting that idea was time wasted, which forced me into reluctant acceptance of underlying concept. As I returned to the table empty handed, I made a few remarks about my thoughts to Rachael, which caused her to respond with a simple message, “The only thing you can do it make the most of the time you have, Caleb. That way it’s more likely those memories will live on, right?”

Ready for its concrete casing!
I weighed Rachael’s words carefully as I started into my nightly routine. Of course, I knew Rachael was right, and I knew it was up to me to make sure I was doing everything possible to live the life I want to lead. If anything, the idea of my “I have never...” journey is helping me do just that, and the experiences I am gaining from my daily experiences are helping me live a better, more complete life. I figure that’s the best I can do to truly find out what it means to live, and maybe that effort will finally help me come to grips with the idea of time. I guess that means I should spend more time focusing on the things I love and less time worrying about the possibility I might be missing those experiences. If it took putting a time capsule together to finally put those thoughts into action, I’m happy I decided to take on the task.

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