My kids had a time capsule they once buried with playmates. They dug it up twenty years later and they all cried. It was a not so coded message to the future.
Most similar missives are really a plea that your voice is not lost in that sea of forgetfulness we call TIME. Hence history is a study of things people left behind, often on purpose. I wonder if those guys who painted the wild animals in the caves in Spain were pleasing themselves, or painting for a future audience. We all think about it… the time when we won’t BE here anymore. Somebody has to tell our story.
I recall getting caught out like that. I was working on ad mockups for client presentation and was entirely bored looking for the Friday five-o’clock bell. In all the random sea of type, I jotted down my own feelings of utter boredom. The thing is, they blew up the ad and projected it on a wall. One bored person in the room started to read the fine print which was now not so fine. He laughed. Soon everybody laughed. The entire room was caught off guard by my coded message. I heard about it on Monday morning.
Examples of the coded message: Signature carving marks by people who used to put together timber frame structures. They are called “witness marks” something akin to “Joe was here”. Whether anybody cared that Joe was here is conjecture, but Joe certainly cared.
We care that people hear our voice. Leonardo da Vinci was one of those strange few who could read and write upside down and backwards. Hence, he wrote his diary backwards, and likely did it with either hand just to show off. I met a lady who could do this. It was kind of creepy. The script was identical no matter how she wrote, backwards, upside down, either hand. I think she was showing off too. It made me wonder how she would have fared during the witch trials of the 1600’s that was just looking to ferret out those with strange and inexplicable talents.
I once attended a museum display devoted entirely to Leonardo’s doodling. Leonardo was always thinking, and he drew small diagrams of machines that could do amazing things. The entire display was those doodles brought to life with small mechanical models to show off his genius. Leonardo da Vinci was certainly looking for someone smart enough to decode his stuff. He was looking for that co-genius who existed somewhere out there in time who would say, WOW THIS GUY WAS REALLY SMART!!!!!
Blaise Pascal was another head scratcher. Midst all his genius (read, for example, “Pensees” just a random collection of all the stuff a really smart person thinks about in his spare time) Pascal hid a message for posterity. He had a favourite coat that was bequeathed to a servant. Inside the coat was a message he wrote expressing his own religious epiphany. Similar to how Buddha stuck it out under the fig tree until enlightenment showed up, Pascal held out for a religious epiphany that bypassed his overloaded thinker. He wanted to FEEL God. Seems he had his experience. The record of this was sewn into a pocket of the coat. Presumably since this transcends class boundaries, I take it that Pascal wanted the servant to witness that he was a true human being, and he wanted to give credit to God as the one responsible for his generous humanity. Pascal is responsible for another aphorism we have all heard, “The heart has its reasons, which reason itself cannot comprehend.” For someone with such an ample capacity to think, it seems that he was imparting to us all that thinking is overrated. We should at times exercise our heart muscle.
The thing is that hidden notes and codes are not that hidden. They trumpet out what we all really want not so far beneath the surface. We want to be found just like the kid playing hide and seek. If nobody ever finds you the game is not so fun, is it? Buried beneath all this genius is a simple truth. We all want to matter in the end… to someone else.
Of all the things you could be blamed or credited for in a lifetime, this admission of need, one human being for another seems to transcend class, intellect, gender, and history. It’s a universal. It makes me think of how often in a day, and in a lifetime we are encouraged to bury our humanity, and to tell no one - EVER.
No wonder people leave coded messages for the future. Like Jesus said in the Bible, everything whispered in the bedroom will one day be shouted from the rooftops. Perhaps that truth will make human beings of us all.