Sharing that magical place with Hazel had its desired effect, gobsmacked!
Ruts, rocks, cows with calves, hawks, one pelican, one pronghorn and unexpected visitors – a pair of documentary filmmakers shooting important southern Alberta indigenous sites for a German TV show.
Otherwise, only us, with a 360-degree view you could not draw, the landscape as beautiful and as old as time.
There is no known time machine, but going there, is as close as you might come – to stand where ancient indigenous people stood 4,000 years ago; a shrine for people who moved about these plains as they followed their food sources – they had crude tools, no horses, no dogs, no technology, the education of their experiences and teachings of their oral tradition.
This place, Canada’s Stonehenge – is historically valuable, but there is no way to know the purpose of the place, yet being there affirms ‘there could be no better place’ to bring those on earth to connect with the earth beneath them and the sky above as far as the eye can see.
We live in a world where things we pursue must be new, improved, innovative, problem-solving, and net-zero-something to garner attention.
It’s like we are stuck, and searching for any solution that gets us un-stuck. We try to fix, improve, and invent things to move us along, out, and beyond our current stuck-ed-ness. That is the circumstance in every country, gridlocked far beyond the supply chain, inflation, recession or not, survival or not, climate-changing or not.
Standing in an old place, imagining what it was like there 4,000 years ago for original Canadians with few possessions, a climate, water, air, plants, birds, animals, and survival instincts.
Did they choose that site and build the medicine wheel to celebrate, to mourn, to worship, to party?
They certainly picked it for its beauty and magnificent views. The crown/cairn of the 25-mile-square medicine wheel is fenced to keep cattle out – the location is obscure but findable, within a tract of crown owned grazing land.
There are no tables, garbage cans, or usual trappings of tourist stops, no camping, no overnighting – you take away your trash and feel glad to stand, to respect the history and mystery of the place and to appreciate it must have been very meaningful to those who made it …
There is nothing to see, and there is everything to see.
You can’t see history, but you can feel it because, over that time, nothing there has changed. The coulees fall down into the Bow River off in the distance, the breeze has come over the mountains and sweeps by on its way to Saskatchewan – as it did 4,000 years ago.
While time has stood still in that place, everything we know in the world and about our universe – near and far, everything we know about ourselves in microscopic detail has been explored and understood beyond so many dreams. The pace of our knowledge accumulation and progress leaps exponentially off charts. And A.I. will explode that many billion-fold. In 4,000 years from now, we may see our knowledge level today as tiny/wrong-headed/primitive. It won’t be, but it will be so outdated that those words will fit easily.
But what of that place, that medicine wheel place - what will life be like there 4,000 years from now?
My hope is that it remain unspoiled, unchanged, ancient and magical.
So, if we had a real time-machine, would we go forward, or back?
Both, sure, I know – that’s my answer too, but if we only had one choice, where to go?
We don’t know the future, and we scarcely understand the past – so what do smart 2022 people do, if we want to fix the world, build a better one, invent a sustainable future where people are happy as well as healthy, where societies and countries exercise self-determination and protection of their territory and resources in peace rather than war, in cooperative harmony?
How do we do that?
For starters, I recommend you take a day away from every trouble and circumstance and get out of town – visit some history, visit some nature, walk where the ancients walked and imagine a world without anything we have today.
Before you start listing all the things we could live without, imagine that you were as smart as you are today – but living 4,000 years ago. You have a blank page. Fossil fuels haven’t been discovered or used, though wood-burning had caught on because fire had been discovered. There was some knowledge of weather, seasons, stars …
But everything else is waiting to be invented by mankind.
Start with nothing, and ask what would sustainable societies look like
What would transportation and communication look like, what would education, health care, government (do we really need them?), organizations (do we need them?), housing/architecture, office buildings – what would they look like, and how would we create them?
Remember there were no microchips, bicycles, or keyboards?
No paper, no pencil – just rocks/walls, animal skins, rocks, sticks, berries and things with pigment you can find.
Start 4,000 years ago, ‘before the blank page’, before there was anything, start there.
What kind of world would you want if you were staring at it from a magnificent spot on the prairie in July 4,000 years ago?