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The wheel of history

In case you were curious, choir tour was pretty great. Although at times it seemed daunting, when things seemed too intense I just asked myself “When else during my life will I be able to drop everything and travel across the country for two weeks, singing in a different place almost every night?” Each performance brought a new and different challenge, helping to provide variety to our program and keep all of us focused for the night’s concert. We had lots of really enthusiastic audiences, experienced fantastic hospitality and generosity through our many homestays with host families and (of course) spent many hours just hanging out on the bus.

While the performance aspect of tour is always truly inspiring, my highlight of the entire 14-day experience was probably what happened during our free day last Monday. After nearly nine back-to-back performances, free day is always something to which we look forward. It provides us a chance to have a day off, not worry about a concert that evening and explore the community that we’re in as well as break out of our traditional tour wardrobe routine. This year’s free day was spent in Anaheim, Calif., which as many of you know is home to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” the Disneyland Resort. Naturally, since it was literally just down the street from our hotel, many in the choir chose to spend their day off at the theme park. Others formed a quick group to head to the beach, and a third group of 20 (including myself) headed to the Queen Mary in downtown Long Beach.

Not familiar with the Queen Mary? She’s a former trans-Atlantic super-liner loaded with history, beautiful Art Deco styling, impressive engineering statistics and breathtaking views of the Port of Long Beach. With tours daily, the ship offers guests a chance to step back in time and experience first hand what it was like to sail during the golden age of ocean travel. Ever since I was little and visited the ship for the first time, I’ve been mildly obsessed. My life was changed when my 7-year-old self walked to the edge of the pier and leaned back and stared in awe at her impressive mass. She’s been at the forefront of so many pivotal moments in our history and has so many stories to tell.

Walking through the ship’s decks and seeing her many cabins, dining salons and engine room really brings you back to what things were like decades ago. You can only get so much from staring at pictures in a book, and physically being in the same place where so many had been before was both inspiring and humbling. I know the phrase is cliché, but I would give anything to listen to the stories her walls could tell, sharing tales of the people who traveled her decks, the decisions made and the dreams lost.

Being aboard the ship reminded me how much there is to be gained from our past. While it’s often really easy to only focus on the future, where would we be without the events that defined us? Out of all the many interpretations of history, I choose to view it as a circle rather than a line. History moves in cycles, with the course of our future being directly defined by our past. Since we’re constantly traveling the same course, we must seek to learn from the mistakes we’ve made before. History may seem stuffy and boring, but it continues to influence the current course of our daily lives and our future. The lessons of the past will continue to shape our future and thus necessitate a careful appreciation and understanding of the things that came before us. Only then can we move towards a greater tomorrow.

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