The forest in this photograph is old. Older than words, even. Older than some likely organisms that evolved into entire ecosystems but are no longer around. Interestingly, older than things that we probably never knew existed between then and now. Surely, geologists have put it in chronological context. Somewhere between 300 and 400 million years ago, near the end of the Devonian period they say, that’s when we, humankind, can best guesstimate the start of tree population and their subsequent proliferation.
The beginning of a forest. Or of any place or thing or person.
Why do we have such an insatiable curiosity over this seemingly inconsequential chronology? Perhaps it’s that it’s utterly consequential. Is it that by understanding the beginning of things, that we can better understand their evolution and ultimately their demise. There’s also that, maybe not all things have an inevitable demise. Maybe there is no such thing as inevitability when it comes to certain aspects of creation because after a beginning, creations can be looked after, taken care of, enhanced, manipulated, improved, worsened, and above all, kept alive.
Take me for example. In my case we can ascertain the beginning (of me) with great accuracy, quite literally to the exact minute, maybe even the second. In broad strokes however, my beginning and general chronology can be summed up as some time between 3 and 4 decades ago, so that, in a way, we can compare apples to apples.
The minuteness of my person compared to the entirety of this forest. We both have a beginning. They both require research, analysis, and comprehension.
One is 3 to 4 decades, and one is 3 to 4 hundred million years, but they are both in the past, both remain unchanged regardless of desires or personal convictions, and both have a unique set of circumstances that led to their respective creation.
We can argue that, through today, both are completely changed. In some cases progressed and in others regressed, but they are surely unlike that original, beginning state. Yet, that beginning state continues to be a principal source of evidence because it represents the time when invaluable information is inscribed in a person’s or a thing’s make up.
The obvious thing is that we could all learn from any history. And we could all gain particularly meaningful insight from the beginning of that history, because understanding how the beginning came about can help us understand concepts like uniqueness and provenance, concepts that should mature through time. And we all have the same degree of uniqueness, meaning that we are all equally different, and we all come from a distinctive beginning.
This may also hold true in business, with companies, even those with very little or no history at all. By taking a moment to recognize and decipher the beginning of things we may better grasp the essence of the endeavor or idea as a whole. By understanding the essence, we can rest assured of the solidity of the same. And while it can be imitated, those who have taken the time to appreciate their beginning, embrace provenance, and grant its actual value, will likely achieve authenticity, only to thrive in the process of sincerely communicating who, what, and, most importantly, why they are.