Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.
The past is about discovering who we may become or accomplish, the good and the bad.
I tend to write, research, paint, and talk about the past — a lot, especially of indigenous Mexican history. Many don’t see the point of bringing to the light about things and people from years past. It may well seem as if I may be stuck in the past, when in fact it is about discovering who we may become and what we can accomplish — the good and the bad as well.
If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time way before the Internet, why can’t we?
To glance into the past is to see what we are capable of. We are surprised to see how Sumerian cities were organized, Egyptian pyramids erected, ancient Chinese achievements, otherworldly amazing artistry from India, and the sculptural and writing feats of the Olmecs… well before iPhones, laptops, the internet, or electricity for that matter! If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time, why can’t we? It is safe to assume that if they did those things we can do better, and yet we don’t.
Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome that we imagine.
The key is in our past. People dream of a future with flying cars, floating cities, space rockets coming and going, and magical pills. Reality check, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore. Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome than we may imagine (literally!). We don’t need magic pills because in Mexico there were ancient remedies for todays maladies, and it is not that much of a secret. We just have to delve into our past.
Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth.
Prickly pear cactus (yes, like the thousands that grow in the Northern Mexican desert) can control diabetes and lowers cholesterol. Aspirin is an artificial ripoff of remedies done with salicylic acid from Mexican Willow trees called Huexotl. Way before over-processed powerbars there was (now called) Spirulina, a rich algae from Lake Texcoco that the Mexica Aztecs considered it gold (than actual gold) for its stunning nourishment effects. Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth, which today’s experts say it has the properties of cereals… plus everything else, without the fat. Our ancestors used to be so cool, that not only they knew how to cure illness or take care of a fit body, but also invented chocolate for dessert (originally it was called xolocolatl and it was a beverage) way before the Belgians added sugar into the frankenstein-ish thing we now know as chocolate.
It’s not about getting stuck in the past.
We need the past in order to have a future. We need to see what worked and what not to “move on” as hip progressive and conservative people tend to say. Many problems that afflict us today were those of our ancestors, how they solved it or not is important to us (or it should be). Climate issues, food shortage, social issues, technological hurdles — our ancestors around the world had the same troubles. It is not about getting stuck in the past, it is about letting our past light our future.
Photo I shot at Tepojaco, Mexico.
If you’re a history buff, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. Set in Ancient Mexico based in true events, a story of forbidden love.